State senator: Legalizing marijuana could help fund failing pension system

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - With Kentucky facing a $200 million shortfall State Sen. Dan Seum has a plan to raise some green. He wants to legalize a different type of green. It’s a move one Lexington business owner says she’s happy to support.

In August a report from Frankfort said the 2018 budget for the state of Kentucky was in bad shape and could mean problems for the state's pensions system.

"There is an estimate now that we have to come up with $1 billion in new money in our budget to cover this problem," Sen. Seum said.

Republican Sen. Seum says legalizing marijuana for adults could boost revenue for the state. He estimates $100 million in new money.

"My argument is before any new taxes let’s explore the potential of new monies," Sen. Seum said.

It's a move the owner of the Botany Bay in Lexington would love to see.

"It would create jobs, good for farms, the processing involved," Ginny Saville said, adding that the new jobs wouldn't be the only benefit. It would also help with the overcrowding in jails.

"I think we got a lot bigger fish to fry and instead of letting money up and putting people in jail for plants we could use the money to increase our coffers and solve some real problems," Saville said.

Opponents say the legalization would only add to the state's drug problem. The issue has been discussed before but has never had any serious traction in Frankfort. Sen. Seum thinks that could change.

"I think we are going to have to legalize cannabis for the teachers, for the police officers, so that we can ensure their retirement is there that we promised them," Saville said.

When it comes to this type of marijuana legislation states that don’t have any type are actually in the minority. As it stands 28 states in the U.S. have some type of medical or recreational marijuana laws.

Sen. Seum says he's also looking at a bill legalizing casinos in Kentucky as a way to raise money for pensions.

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