State

Could marijuana solve Kentucky’s pension crisis?

One Kentucky state senator feels marijuana is the answer for the state’s severe pension problems. Not necessarily smoking it, but legalizing it.

Sen. Dan Seum (R-Fairdale) is backing the idea of legalizing marijuana for adults and taxing it as a way to dig out of the $30 billion pension hole the state is in, according to media reports.

He told WDRB that marijuana could create jobs and generate $100 million a year in revenue.

“Twenty-eight states now have one form or another of legalized cannabis, or marijuana,” Seum said. “Colorado is really knocking down some good money on that.”

Drastic changes have been proposed for Kentucky’s pension plans, but legalizing marijuana has not been mentioned as an option to pay for the unfunded pensions.

Seum thinks most retirees won’t care where their retirement funds come from.

“I think most of them, quite frankly, would be happy to fund it any way they want as long as they don’t lose their pensions,” he told WDRB.

Last year, the Chicago Tribune reported that the legal marijuana industry created more than 18,000 new full-time jobs and generated $2.4 billion in economic activity for 2015.

Desperation might lead to a marijuana bill being passed, Seum told WDRB, but Martin Cothran of the Family Foundation of Kentucky is confident the idea won’t gain steam and feels the pension issue needs to be tackled in a different way.

“How do we structure this system in a way that this won’t happen again?” he asked. “And then we can talk about funding.”

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