California's Bill to Legalize and Tax Pot: Not All It Ought To Be

California admits: it's awash in 500 tons of pot, and could make nearly a billion and a half a year if it just wised up and legalized it. In reaction to a proposed bill currently in committee in the state assembly:

The State Board of Equalization report estimates marijuana retail sales would bring $990 million from a $50-per-ounce fee and $392 million in sales taxes......

The Equalization Board used law enforcement and academic studies to calculate that about 16 million ounces — or 500 tons — of marijuana are consumed in California each year.

Marijuana use would likely increase by about 30 percent once the law took effect because legalization would lead to falling prices, the board said......

Advocates and opponents do agree that California is by far the country's top pot-producing state. Last year law enforcement agencies in California seized nearly 5.3 million plants.

While I like the generic idea of the bill, it has provisions that are simply idiotic, and do show that the radical Szaszian anti-medicalization libertarians have a good point about the slippery slope of framing drug policy reform in any way other than, hey, we have a right to eat and smoke whatever we want as long as we aren't directly harming someone else:

The legislation requires all revenue generated by the $50-per-ounce fee to be used for drug education and rehabilitation programs. The state's 9 percent sales tax would be applied to retail sales, while the fee would likely be charged at the wholesale level and built into the retail price.

Ca-monn, guys, if you are selling this as a measure of fiscal sanity, let go of the "education and rehabilitation" bullshit. There are more important government expenditures than that, for all those who believe in government expenditures.

The bill as currently written also had meaningless and pointless built right into it because "The way the bill is written, the state could not begin collecting taxes until the federal government legalizes marijuana." But bill author Tom Ammiano says he's planning to amend that part.

Tim Castleman at Indybay.org reads the full bill of Ammiano's A.B. 390 and doesn't like what he sees. Part of his bill of indictment:

Subsection (b) says that 18,19 and 20 year olds are not adults and makes them into a whole new batch of criminals if they have anything at all to do with cannabis....

Next, subsection (d) funds drug war propaganda and treatment centers with a "substantial fee" on the "legal sale" of marijuana. To clarify what "legal sale" may mean subsection (e) seeks to "impose a set of regulations and laws concerning marijuana comparable to those imposed on alcohol." This means licenses, background checks and restrictions on a plant that has never killed anyone, unlike alcohol....

The magnitude of damage this bill could do only begins to come into focus deep into the language, but a hint is seen in subsection (f) "To impose substantial fines for violations of the noncommercial regulations and laws concerning marijuana, which will be applicable until and after commercial marijuana is available by virtue of future changes in federal law." So there you have it - marijuana is even more illegal than it was, unless obtained from a state licensed retailer, who must get it from a state licensed wholesaler, who must get it from a state licensed producer......

Section 5 seems to further extend government control and tax authority to include every possible market segment from bongs to baggies to growing supplies and equipment.....

Section 12 further codifies the restrictions on every market possibly related to cannabis. In short, everything is illegal, unless the state grants an applicant permission, based on fees, a background check and proof of financial resources to sufficient satisfy their requirements for security etc.....

Section 14 clarifies that every asset is subject to forfeiture for violation of any of these laws. This devastating practice is often used in place of legal proceedings to persecute individuals and prevent them from fighting back.

Section 15 authorizes law enforcement officials to destroy any amount of a "suspected controlled substance" over 10 pounds. Later, when it is time to return the victims property, much of it is likely to have been destroyed by hostile government agents....

The text of the bill.

Nick Gillespie makes the libertarian case for legalizing and taxing the currently illegal in the New York Times. Matt Welch explains that California could totally use the money.

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  • hmm||

    Selling pot to fund the drug war. Now there's a stimulus plan.

  • ||

    Fifty bucks an ounce?

    I guess they really want everyone to grow it themselves.

    -jcr

  • gnar||

    I would gladly pay $50 in fees for an ounce, if it meant that I had a legal and non-poisonous alternative to tobacco and alcohol (which together kill around 400,000 Americans annually compared to 0 for weed).

    Anyone who has tried weed (1/3 Americans) or who has spoken to someone that has can recognize that the current prohibition is both unjust and far more harmful to society than the widespread use that takes place whether it is legal or not.

  • ||

    Leave it to government to screw up a good idea.

    JCR, I wonder if it bans growing by citizens or would require an overly expensive permit to grow. Wouldn't surprise me. I imagine a lot of people would grow it.

  • dmoynihan||

    C'mon, you don't get things like legalization passed unless you've got (new) make-work jobs for redundant drug warriors. Obviously, the "education" money isn't going to go to drug education in any great quantity...

    I admit y'all's got a point about the provisions, but did you guys think, really, that coming off of prohibition we'd have anything besides silly regs (and mondo taxes) governing how pot is sold by the state?

    In the '30s--you know, last time the economy was this fucked--after the country went wet again, you had all kinds of counties putting in all kinds of silly little ABC stores and Blue Laws and taxes and them blame Revenooers and so forth. Bootlegging continued for quite a while, as I recall from the Dukes of Hazzard and Snuffy Smith cartoons.

    Most states have gotten rid of the blue laws, and most counties (apart from mine), don't sell liquor direct anymore.

    Well, scratch that, some counties do, some don't, some places even have beer in grocery stores. We won't regain our adulthood over night.

    /Hasn't smoked pot this century.
    //Kinda wants to right now...

  • Solomon||

    I just read the entire bill. In fact, the law does allow cultivation for personal consumption.

    It even allows you to buy seedlings to grow at home from licensed nurseries. The restrictions are:

    You must a) be 21 years old, b) grow it away from public view in your home or yard, c) grow no more than 10 plants at a time, d) not sell it.

  • ||

    This is not going to end well. The law of unintended consequences with this is going to be absolutely hilarious to watch.

    Do they think that they'll see revenue right off the bat from this?? It'll take them years to get this all figured out.

    Can you say clusterfuck?

  • anarch||

    I don't want the government promoting drugs, thanks, which it will be incentivized to do with an easy source of revenue, cf. State lotteries.

    I think recreational drug-use should be an individual choice, albeit one that in my opinion is often an unwise choice. FWIW, I feel the same about other drugs, from coffee to booze to crack, as well as gambling and other activities traditionally termed vices, most junk foods, cursing, and gratuitously split infinitives.

    But since some of my own (other) beliefs and practices are heretical to many, and since I trust no central authority to be wise enough to regulate them either, I want us all to be left alone to pursue, learn from, and renounce our favored follies, each at his own pace, entirely at liberty to backslide, and with no accountability to other fallible mortals whom we have not personally selected to be our mentors.

    I'd rather the State not profit from human imperfections.

  • ||

    Since your column mentions the fact that under the bill medical cannabis sales are subject to sales tax, it is important to note that medical cannabis sales in California are subject to sales tax under the current system.

  • Rhywun||

    Frankly I would rather take my chances and buy it from my friend's coworker's dealer or grow it myself than deal with this crap. FAIL.

  • ||

    Re your point that "Ca-monn, guys, if you are selling this as a measure of fiscal sanity, let go of the "education and rehabilitation" bullshit. There are more important government expenditures than that, for all those who believe in government expenditures."

    Indeed? Many, including one of the most politically powerful unions in the state of California, the state prison guards' union, would certainly agree, arguing for example that prisons and jails are a more important expenditure -- especially since, given the state's already-inadequate spending on education and on substance abuse treatment, there will be a growing need for more prisons and jails.

    One must ask seriously whether moneys from legal cannabis taxes would truly be more wisely spent should the funds be put into the general budget rather than being earmarked.

  • hmm||

    lottery debacle incoming

  • skr||

    so far this one is my favorite.

    (d) Restrictions to ensure that marijuana is not used or consumed
    on the premises of a commercial cultivator.


    IOW, pot farmers can't smoke pot on the farm. Good luck with that one.

  • ||

    What would be a fair tax? Does this bill mention hash? I've seen... er... I mean I've heard of weed anywhere from $25.00 per 1/4 to $40.00 for 1/8. My sweet spot, hypothetically speaking of course, would be to pay $35.00 per 1/4 (taxes included) with no stems or seeds.

    I think it is important to at least get the camel's nose under the tent. Once the ball get rolling, and once the State starts to see 100's of millions of revenue, it will be hard to roll this puppy back.

    Trips to Reno and Laughlin will get a lot more interesting. I wonder if Nevada will sit by and let all that cross border revenue leave.

  • skr||

    I could be wrong about this but it looks as though Section 5 does not regulate baggies in the sense that is indicated above. It looks to me that is changes state code (which already regulates everything that could possibly be used for drugs) and then shows that particular code concerning all controlled substances striking out all the references to marijuana, hashish, etc.

    SEC. 5. Section 11014.5 of the Health and Safety Code is amended
    to read:

    (8) Objects designed for use or marketed for use in ingesting,
    inhaling, or otherwise introducing marijuana,
    cocaine , hashish, or hashish oil into the human
    body, such as:
    ...

  • ||

    "Since your column mentions the fact that under the bill medical cannabis sales are subject to sales tax, it is important to note that medical cannabis sales in California are subject to sales tax under the current system."

    It's my understanding that even illegal drug sales are subject to sales taxes. Has this been overruled as absurd? I recall a H&R post about this in the last year or so.

  • ||

    While I like the generic idea of the bill, it has provisions that are simply idiotic, and do show that the radical Szaszian anti-medicalization libertarians have a good point about the slippery slope of framing drug policy reform in any way other than, hey, we have a right to eat and smoke whatever we want as long as we aren't directly harming someone else



    I tried to make that argument in this very forum, and got shot down hard for it. Apparently the libertarian philosophy is to legalize pot for the purposes of taxing the shit out of it to fund gee-whiz trains. A $50 per ounce tax isn't going to stop the black market in pot, it's only going to let liberaltarians get legally stoned while pretending that they're rolling back the state.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    O RLY, Brandybuck? Well, what about a five-dollar tax? Would you admit that that "low" of a tax would make a difference in the black market?

    If so, you're not disagreeing with the "tax it!" argument, you're just quibbling with the amount.

  • ||

    How long after they make MJ legal so they can tax it will it be before they start trying to tax it out of existence?

  • DJP||

    Er...yeah...because paying tax on cannabis is so much worse than having your liberty taken away and put in jail...

    I align closely with libertarian views. Politically, you have to see and promote beneficial change when it's there. This is true even if that change doesn't result in your theoretically pure view of how things ought to be.

    And this change is not incremental. This is a drastic improvement in marijuana policy. Libertarians should support it.

  • Paul||

    and do show that the radical Szaszian anti-medicalization libertarians have a good point



    Thank you. I take that as a compliment.

  • ||

    DJP, if it was done with more altruistic desires, I'd agree. But when the government is doing it simply as a revenue stream, they're going to end up controlling it to death. Yeah, the legal aspect will clean up a lot of issues, but doing this will just end up creating a logistical mess. Can you imagine the fines they'll impose for "improper distribution" and "unlicensed provider" infractions?

    It's gonna take all the fun out of the whole thing.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    While I like the generic idea of the bill, it has provisions that are simply idiotic, and do show that the radical Szaszian anti-medicalization libertarians have a good point about the slippery slope of framing drug policy reform in any way other than, hey, we have a right to eat and smoke whatever we want as long as we aren't directly harming someone else

    Hear hear.

    The way the bill is written, the state could not begin collecting taxes until the federal government legalizes marijuana.

    So you could start selling legally without paying taxes? Well, it's a tough responsibility, but damn it, somebody's gotta do it.

  • ||

    What would be a fair tax?

    Assuming for the sake of discussion that there can be such a thing as a fair tax, I would say that taxing pot at the same rate as any other thing for sale in a given jurisdiction would be reasonable.

    -jcr

  • Mandate everything you want pe||

    I swear, government social engineering programs of any kind are so inherently loathsome that if there were a program to buy everybody "free" porn with taxpayer dollars, nobody would want to look at the stuff and dumpsters and landfills would be stuffed with unviewed dirty mags and movies.

    You want kids not to smoke pot, just start a really gay school program advocating that they smoke up. Burning barrels and ovens everywhere will be filled with the butts from unsmoked state-mandated joints that, technically, the kids only had a mandate to "consume."

  • ||

    Ummm how hard it is to grow pot?

    My guess is it is slightly easier to grow then tomatoes and if they tax it by 50$ an ounce no one is going to be buying it....at least not buying it through legal taxable channels.

  • ||

    Plus they can't trust Obama not to have the DEA arrest, and the DOJ prosecute, anyone who sells/possesses marijuana in California, pursuant to this new law. So far, Obama has already reneged on his promise to let states make their own drug policy and not have the federal government interfere with medical marijuana sales in compliance with state law.

    It would be funny if Obama had the DOJ prosecute the state of california and all the lawmakers who sponsor/vote for this bill as engaging in a marijuana distribution conspiracy. I wouldn't put it past Obama and the feds to do just that.

  • johnny john john||

    It's the state's right to socially engineer.

    Fine products of social engineering:
    1. highways
    2. schools
    3. propaganda against murder and theft
    4. Human rights, "all men are created equal"
    5. The "Free Market"
    6. Democracy

  • ||

    "Fifty bucks an ounce?"

    That's not a tax, that's extortion:
    You wouldn't want anything...unfortunate... to happen to the nice clean criminal record now would you?

    At $50 an ounce the black market would keep on going. Remember the smuggling that occurred when Canada increased the tax on cigarettes? The St. Lawrence looked like the Caribbean in the 80's, except the aptly named Cigarette boats were actually carrying cigarettes.

  • ||

    johnny john john:
    Fine products of social engineering:
    1. Roadblocks and checkpoints
    2. Gulags
    3. propaganda for racism and genocide. 'the protocols', 'final solution'
    4. Race Slavery, apartheid, Sharia, Black Codes
    5. state ownership of everything, including people
    6. mob rule, royalty, aristocracy, tyranny.

    FTFY there, ace.

  • MJ||

    "So you could start selling legally without paying taxes?" - Tim Cavanaugh

    And be subject to federal prosecution. The current state of constitutional law has already established that CA cannot nullify federal drug laws. CA setting up a legal framework for legal marijuana will not make pot fully legal in California.

    I suppose if want to take your chances, go for it.

  • MNG||

    The bill is better than the status quo, a move towards the good. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of that...The silliest provisions are in there to keep drug warriors from having too much ammo to kill this thing. They have to get it passed you know, and democracy is a lot like sausage making...

  • johnny john john||

    tomwright: Yah social engineering can be used for "good" or "bad", no shit. Funny thing everyone here has been socially engineering to believe "rights" are good and "murder" is bad. We've all been brainwashed to accept society's norms. It's not always a bad thing.

  • robc||

    Commie comm com,

    Rights arent a result of social engineering. They exist naturally (I claim they come from God, Randist types claim something else, never understood exactly where, I think Zeus came on Minerva's leg or something).

  • robc||

    It's the state's right to

    States dont have rights. They have powers. Only people have rights.

  • ed||

    They [rights] exist naturally (I claim they come from God, Randist types claim something else, never understood exactly where)

    You just said where, robc. They exist by virtue of man's nature as a thinking, volitional creature.

  • ||

    robc,

    I say rights flow from the principle of self-ownership.

    But I don't answer for The Randians.

  • ||

    This is about the worst revenue proposal I've heard in a decade. There is a reason the stuff is known as weed. Because it is a weed! It's incredibly easy to grow compared to fruit and vegetables. Part of the appeal of hemp farming was that it could be done on land that otherwise wasn't much use for agriculture. Tobacco is a far less hardy plant by comparison and thus lend itself to professional farming.

  • ||

    As a Kentuckian familiar with both products:

    Producing quality marijuana is light years more difficult than growing tobacco, which is not a fragile plant, but merely labor intensive during certain parts of its growth cycle to make usable tobacco.

    If the difference between learning to grow quality pot in your backyard and paying $50 more an ounce for comparable product you pick-up ready-to-smoke in a store, the tax will be paid without comment by a state of grateful potheads.

    As for the hard-liners: paying tax and smoking legally > being arrested and fired

  • ||

    I say to hell with them, why give them something else to tax.

  • ||

    Am I missing something or will there not be substantial savings when CA's local PD's no longer have to bust marijuana possessors/users? Why isn't this being advertised as a benefit to CA's economy?

  • ||

    Fifty bucks an ounce may be a high tax to start with, but if we actually legalize marijuana in this country and allow for commercial production there will be room for even higher taxes before marijuana costs anywhere close to what it costs today. Our modern corporate farmers will bring production costs way down. The government won't be seizing well over a thousand metric tons of finished product and millions of plants every year. Pot won't be changing hands so many times before it reaches end consumers with everyone who touches it wanting to make a hefty sum of money to justify the risks. It will be produced on large farms for a few bucks a pound. Distributors will buy it up and sell it to the licensed shops. There will be big money being made but it will be made from high volume sales with much lower profit margins than we see in the black market.

    Our government estimates that the Mexicans are producing over 1,000 pounds of dried bud per acre per year. These are peasants growing it out in the boonies without the benefit of modern farming equipment or methods. Our highly efficient farmers ought to be able to produce 500 to a 1,000 pounds per acre easily. Canadian hemp farmers produce hemp for seed and to grow it, dry it, and remove the seeds costs less than $1,000 per acre. If marijuana for smoking costs $10,000 per acre to produce and farmers produce a 1,000 pounds per acre on average it would only cost $10 a pound to produce. If it costs $25,000 per acre to produce and farmers can only get 500 pounds per acre it would still only cost $50 a pound to produce.

    It's not going to cost that much to grow, nothing really does, and our farmers will probably be able to get better yields than the Mexicans. It's only going to cost a few dollars a pound to produce outdoor grown marijuana, and some high quality marijuana can be produced outdoors. The fancy stuff grown indoors today will be grown in row after row of greenhouses like we see with large hothouse tomato growing operations and will cost more to produce but still considerably less than the thousands of dollars a pound this stuff wholesales for today. Pot will be cheap and the only way to keep prices anywhere close to current levels is going to be with high taxation.

    Fifty dollars an ounce really isn't that much of a tax. It's less than $2 a gram and a gram is enough for several smoking sessions for a single person. There are about 28.35 grams in an ounce and 454 in a pound. The tax will be pennies per smoking session. Most people won't be buying ounces. That's enough to last months for the average smoker. The government estimates from survey results that the average current marijuana user only smokes about 7 grams per month. Obviously some smoke a lot more than that and some a lot less, but most people who smoke pot are going be buying a gram or a few grams at a time. They'll pay several dollars a gram without hesitation because that's enough for several smoking sessions. They're already paying $15 or $20 a gram often at these medical marijuana dispensaries, plus sales taxes. Pot prices will end up dropping through the floor and there will be all sorts of room for high taxes before consumers pay more than they pay today.

  • ||

    "This is about the worst revenue proposal I've heard in a decade. There is a reason the stuff is known as weed. Because it is a weed! It's incredibly easy to grow compared to fruit and vegetables."

    If that was true we wouldn't see these medical marijuana dispensaries in California doing gangbusters business selling pricey marijuana to people who could legally grow their own. They're often paying $15 or $20 a gram for this stuff, and these are people with medical marijuana cards who could just grow their own. California is already bringing in millions a year just from straight sales taxes on marijuana, and only a very small percentage of California's pot smokers are medical users allowed to go to these dispensaries.

  • ||

    I would think that this law will fail to bring in a lot of revenue, because people can simply fail to pay the tax, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Leary v. United States (1969).

    You youngsters may not know it, but once upon a time, the feds didn't think that the Commerce Clause gave them the right to control everything under the sun, so when they wanted to control marijuana, they used the taxing power to impose a tax of $100 per ounce. Timothy Leary was arrested by the feds for failing to pay the tax, and defended himself by arguing that if he had paid the tax, he would in effect be incriminating himself by admitting to a violation of (state) marijuana possession laws. The Supremes agreed, and declared that the Marihuana (sic) Tax Act of 1938 was unconstitutional. (Sounds like a happy ending, but no: The next year, Congress abandoned the pretense that it was "lay[ing] and collect[ing a] Tax[] . . . to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States," and passed the Controlled Substances Act, which simply made possession of marijuana a federal offense.)

    By the same logic, a Californian could by that logic refuse to pay the California tax on the ground that doing so would tend to incriminate him as a violator of the federal Controlled Substances Act.

  • ||

    Oops. Make that:

    By the same logic, a Californian could by that logic refuse to pay the California tax . . .

  • dhex||

    "Rights arent a result of social engineering."

    no, they arise from social fictions. we fake it until we make it (and until someone with real power breaks it, etc).

    perhaps not a big difference in the end, though. the world is made out of magic and bullshit and that's ok.

  • ||

    We all knew the only way legalization would occur anywhere in this country is if it is taxed and regulated. Of course, it shouldn't be, but let's not be naive. It was the only way with our politicians deciding these things.

    So, will CA have success with this and then potentially open up more drugs for legalization and taxation to gather revenue, and more importantly to those of us who do not live in CA, will this convince other states to do the same?

    Oh, and to all you politicians, this can create jobs! (I don't know if it will or not, but if we tell them it will, there's a chance for this bill.)

  • ||

    Seamus, like all purchases where a sales tax is imposed, you can't buy the item without paying the tax. Avoidance is not really a risk reducer here if your goal is to obtain the drug through a legal dispensary.

  • ||

    Looks to me like it needs a federalism clause, stating, at a minimum, that California will not cooperate with any federal law enforcement activity aimed at anything that is legal under California law.

  • ||

    "The Equalization Board used law enforcement and academic studies to calculate that about 16 million ounces - or 500 tons - of marijuana are consumed in California each year."

    That 500 ton figure is probably way low. The feds estimate that between 12,000 and 25,000 metric tons of marijuana are available on our market every year. (A metric tons is about 2,204 pounds compared to our standard 2,000 pound short ton.) Californians are more than 10% of our population, so if the federal estimates are right they're probably consuming well over 1,000 tons and maybe even close to 3,000 tons.

    Are the federal supply estimates right? Who knows. These are all educated guesses. They try to estimate how much is coming in from other countries and how much is produced here. They think, for instance, that Mexico produced about 15,500 metric tons of pot in 2007 and most of it came here. Several thousand tons of pot are seized before they ever make it here.

    Within this country though the feds seize about 1,300 metric tons per year on average. There is no accounting of what sate and local authorities seize, but they aren't just seizing joints from kids at the park. They seize multiple loads of hundreds of pounds or even tons from our highways and they also hit stash houses where tons of pot are being stored for later distribution around the country. I'm in a small town in the South and local law enforcement will seize many thousands of pounds of pot every a year from mules driving on a short stretch of interstate highway that goes through my county. I would not be surprised at all to learn that non federal law enforcement around the country seize at least several hundred metric tons of pot every year, if not more than a thousand.

    Law enforcement only seize a small amount of the marijuana on the market. usually they'll tell you they probably only get about 10% of it. If we just look at the amount the feds seize, 1,300 metric tons, then there would have been 13,000 metric tons on the market if law enforcement seized 10%. Add in what is seized by non federal law enforcement and it could that 2,000 or more metric tons are seized so that the total on the market is 20,000 metric tons or more.

    I don't know how much pot Californians consume, but it is probably a lot more than 500 tons a year.

  • anarch||

    johnny john john | July 16, 2009, 6:11am | #
    It's the state's right to socially engineer.

    Fine products of social engineering:
    1. highways
    2. schools
    3. propaganda against murder and theft
    4. Human rights, "all men are created equal"
    5. The "Free Market"
    6. Democracy



    I was going to ask What's wrong with highways (besides speed-traps and 4th-Amendment violations, inflated tolls, and some poorly designed exits/entrances), until the other commenters and Mr. john's response showed that the list, even including "schools," wasn't presented sarcastically.

  • Billy Beck||

    Welch: you know that I think a lot of you, but when they do this, I'll be here to let you know how foolish you've been over it.

    Freedom, men. What's it going to take to get it through your heads?

  • Dale Gieringer||

    Prop 13 is to blame for the fact that the Ammiano bill targets funding to drug treatment instead of the general fund, where both Ammiano and I would have preferred it. Under Prop. 13, any bill to raise revenues for the general fund is considered a "tax" and requires a 2/3 vote, which would be impossible in a legislature that can't even scratch up 2/3 of a vote for a budget. By targeting the money to drug abuse, which is putatively related to marijuana consumption, the bill can be classified as a "fee increase," requiring a simple majority.
    As for the other provisions in the bill, they closely mirror the current system for alcohol regulation. If you think there aren't a myriad of laws restricting that "legal" product, I suggest you take a close look at the California business & professions code.

  • Dear Nation of Hypocrites||

    I'm sick of it!!!!!!!!! I like pot. You like beer. Who's correct on this? It's insane.

    The millions should not need a buffer like medical marijuana to get smoke.

    The intolerant squares (that enjoy a drink) say they just want medical marijuana to get high. And saying it's medical is an excuse. Well so what. I will never touch crack, coke, or meth. And it's never been gateway drug for me or any of my successful adult friends.

    I get high once every 2 weeks. Why do I have to have excuses? This whole thing pisses me off.

    Why not make donuts and soft drinks illegal? They make you fat and give you diabetes. And everyone knows one donut leads to another.

    I like pot. So what. Am I a sinner? Have I hurt anyone? Have I stole anything?

    You like a drink. I like a puff. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE? Just legalize it, tax it, regulate it. AND END THE CRIME AND VIOLENCE CREATED BY KEEPING IT ILLEGAL!

    What a bunch of *%*^$& hypocrites!

  • ||

    If so, you're not disagreeing with the "tax it!" argument, you're just quibbling with the amount.



    It should be taxed the same as any other product. $50 an ounce is not reasonable.

  • ||

    "It should be taxed the same as any other product. $50 an ounce is not reasonable."

    It's not that crazy though. On average people are paying nearly two and a half bucks in state, local and federal taxes for a pack of smokes. A lot of people smoke more than a pack a day. Most pot smokers won't smoke a gram of pot a day and a $50 an ounce tax would only work out to less than $1.77 per gram. (There are 28.3495231 grams in an ounce.) A gram of pot is enough for several smoking sessions for most pot smokers. A $50 an ounce excise plus regular sales tax would end up being way less of a burden on pot smokers than tobacco taxes are on cigarette smokers.

    Prices are going to drop too. From what I'm reading here this $50 an ounce tax would not come into effect unless the feds legalize marijuana, unless the bill is amended. If the feds allow states to legalize marijuana, for there to be actual legal commercial production, prices will drop through the floor. In time it will only cost a few dollars a pound to produce outdoor grown marijuana and not that much more to produce the fancier stuff in greenhouses. There would be no commericial production indoors under lights because that's just ridiculously expensive and unnecesary when farmers can use free sunlight.

    Phillip Morris pays less than $3 a pound for tobacco. Is there any reason why pot should cost hundreds or even thousands of times as much in large bulk wholesale purchases in a legal environment? Of course not. As the legal industry becomes efficient and competition drives prices prices lower it's going to become so cheap that if the government wants to keep prices near current prices most of what consumers pay for it will likely be taxes. People won't mind that too much though as long as they aren't having to pay more than they pay today, as long as it's still cheaper than beer on a per use basis for the most part.

  • ||

    Fine products of social engineering:
    1. highways
    2. schools
    3. propaganda against murder and theft
    4. Human rights, "all men are created equal"
    5. The "Free Market"
    6. Democracy

    I would not call the highways, schools, Free market and Democracy in our fair states a fine product...expensive, badly managed and underachieving would be more apt description then "fine". And after reading today's article about a guy in jail for not paying for some other guys child support i would put "all men created equal" in the fine category some of the time.

  • ||

    As a Kentuckian familiar with both products:

    Producing quality marijuana is light years more difficult than growing tobacco, which is not a fragile plant, but merely labor intensive during certain parts of its growth cycle to make usable tobacco.


    As a Washingtonian, who did go to a Washington State college, I am familiar with the fact that Kentucky does not know what good weed is.

  • ||

    # anarch | July 15, 2009, 11:07pm | #

    # I'd rather the State not profit from human
    # imperfections.

    But as every citizen, 18 or over, can vote, and we have the possibility of initiative legislation in CA, the State already profits from human imperfections. Are you saying that you would rather they not be upfront and honest about it?

  • anarch||

    Sorry, James Anderson Merritt, I don't follow.

    If it simplifies my position, let's analogize to gambling and junk-food and cursing and sporting ugly apparel, which [as, avowedly fallibly, I define them] I also consider unwholesome activities.

    I want the government neither to suppress them (through prohibitions) nor support them (through State lotteries, canteens, speech-rules, or dress-codes).

    I would rely on cultural persuasion to influence conduct that impinges on no one's liberty.

  • ||

    nice post..
    ___________________
    Britney
    The best place for the best ENTERTAINMENT

  • ||

    If you call it a drug its going to be perceived as a drug. If you call it medicine its going to be perceived as medicine. Some people look at it differently, but what you can't deny is the fact that, whatever you classify it as, it is less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes, and it does have the ability to help people. If you are refusing to help people based on the stigma with which the word "drug" implies, you're doing a disservice to millions of Americans who already use marijuana recreationally and for various ailments. Not to mention you don't what marijuana does in the first place.

  • Joe RIley||

    This bill is in a draft right now.. The actual ballot measure wont be out till 2010.. of course there are going to be some things peopple disagree to as it is perfected. Consider it "beta"...

  • ||

    Legalizing pot faces serious political obstacles. Personally, I would rather legalize prostitution and gambling and eliminate the state income tax - it works in Nevada, but I digress. Legalizing pot will be hard. Taxation on the other hand, is easy.

    For those who endorse legalizing pot so as to tax it to help ease California's budget problems, that's a cop out. Take responsibility for yourself and voluntarily pay the tax you owe. It's that simple.

    Californian's that smoke dope illegally, simply declare your illegal pot purchases on your annual tax return. Multiply the dollar amount you contributed to the other side of the War on Drugs by your local tax rate then add it to your tax liability. Having done your part to ease California's budget crisis, you will be able to sleep better at night without adding costs to the state for managing all the negative effects of legalizing yet another social poison.

    Come to think of it this would work for cocaine, meth, extasy, LSD and even heroin. Remember though, California is broke so be honest about the amount of illegal drugs you buy. Every dollar you report spending on illegal drugs helps a crime syndicate, some where in the world, kill, mutilate and torture but more importantly, it will also keep teachers in barrio schools, doctors and nurses in trauma centers and rehab centers staffed with social workers. But then hey, the end justifies the means, right?

    As for legalizing pot to tax it, we don't need more unnecessary laws we just need to enforce the laws already on the books.

    Pot is already taxed in California. Like every other state California has both a sales and a use tax. Retailers collect sales tax; we all understand and accept that. When the seller does not collect sales tax, the buyer is obligated by law to report and pay the tax. In these circumstances it's called a use tax.

    So when illegal drug users buy dope and don't pay either a sales or a use tax they are not only contributing to death and violence such as is going on in Mexico right now, they are also cheating California out of tax revenues it needs to keep doctors, nurses, teachers, police, firefighters, park rangers and tax collectors on the job.

    Potheads, join ranks with medicinal pot users who already pay sales tax. Illegal drug users don't need spineless politicians in Sacramento endorsing drug use to pay the tax they owe. Just declare your usage on your tax return and pay voluntarily.

    Dopers should take a page from the Gay & Lesbian community and come out of the closet. Exert your right to pay sales tax! If you won't do it for yourself, do it for the kids.

  • ||

    The prices all these boneheads pay for dope would be hilarious were it not so pathetic. I recall spending $15 for a 3/4 oz. lid of Panama Red in the late sixties when Lebanese Blond hashish was ten bucks a gram. Then dealers began pushing domestic sinsemilla for twenty bucks an eighth. What a ripoff! They were always claiming that it was much better weed but most of them hardly touched pot and didn't know what they were talking about. Their product would get you fairly high for awhile but then you'd come right back down, whereas the best seeded pot got you good and stoned for several hours. Am hoping Californians will lead the nation in legalizing cannabis but the aforementioned pricing structure is absurd. Good pot shouldn't cost more than good coffee, good wine, good beer, or good booze.

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