Open letter to Sen. Manchin and Sen. Capito

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To:
Senator Joseph Manchin
306 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3954
Senator Shelley Moore Capito
172 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-6472

Dear Senators:
As your constituent, I’m writing to ask you to oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. His position towards marijuana legalization will kill the only chance West Virginia has to escape our budget crisis.

I understand you serve with Senator Sessions in Washington, but he was denied a federal judgeship over concerns that he was racist and still displays the same prejudices including that the KKK is OK except that they smoke marijuana. Senator Sessions will most likely push for wholesale changes and hardline stances on immigration, terrorism, crime, drugs and guns; and he could wipe away progress in access to medical marijuana, changes in legalization of marijuana at the state level, and enforcement at the Federal level.

The WV Center on the Budget and Policy also has an excellent presentation on their website explaining the profound impact that the legalization of recreational, medical, and industrial marijuana can have on the WV’s budget crisis, WV farmers, and WV retailers. Being located within 250-mile radius of a significant amount of the eastern population of the United States and given the Federal prohibition on the transportation of cannabis across state lines, marijuana consumed in WV must be produced in state and the product as demonstrated in Colorado and Washington State will act as a tremendous tourist draw. At taxation levels of 25% per ounce, the estimated state tax revenues would amount to $194 million and, therefore, represents $776 million in retail sales, and – utilizing conventional supplier models of 50% retail markup, 30% wholesale markup – $271 million in agricultural revenues for WV farmers. It is not clear how much revenue will be generated from hotels, restaurants, and destinations catering to the needs of out-of-state visitors but what we do know is that every year since Colorado’s legalization that their cannabis tourism has grown and that state in 2014 had 71.3 million visitors and tourism revenue of $18.6 billion. In comparison, West Virginia in 2014 had $4.5 billion in revenues. And we know from the Drug Policy Alliance six-month status report on Colorado that positive changes are immediate and rapid including winning over the original opponents and established politicians of their state – many of who are now its strongest supporters.

Support our state by opposing Sessions.

Happy Holidays!
Gregg Wingo
Lewisburg