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WWW: Will Marijuana Be “Taxed To Death?”

July 18, 2010

A photograph of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) in S...
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420 Times / 15 July 2010 / Opinion by Joe

An article posted on theprovince.com this morning brings up an interesting point, although it doesn’t do it until the last paragraph. If marijuana is legalized, will it be “taxed to death” in the same fashion as tobacco?

What do I think? I favour Proposition 19. I think it’s high time we stopped treating pot as a special weed — and starting taxing it to death like tobacco.

I’m not sure if this is the author’s tounge-in-cheek way of saying he is against cannabis, so let’s tax it to death like we are tobacco, or if he just thinks tobacco users have been screwed for so long, it’s now marijuana users turn. Let me address taxation before getting into the rest of his article, which is very good.

It’s true that the government likes to tax. Local, state, and the federal government all need money, and they get it from us. And it’s also true that the taxes on tobacco are nearing ridiculous proportions. But the main difference is the marijuana black market.

There isn’t much of a black market for tobacco. I guess going to a drug dealer to buy something you can legally – even if it’s more expensive – is not something most cigarette smokers would consider. Marijuana users on the other hand, are used to the illicit side of the plant. If marijuana were to be legalized and taxes drove the price back up to current levels, most would return to their dealers and undercut the IRS.

The temptation to continually raise taxes on cannabis will be great, but the government must be careful of reviving the black market we are trying to eliminate.

Cannabis Culture chief Jodie Emery, wife of Prince of Pot Marc Emery, told me Thursday the proposed legislation is contentious, even among California growers. Some fear passage of the initiative, on the Nov. 2 California statewide ballot, will cut into their profits or even drive them out of business.

“The price of marijuana is going to drop drastically if it’s available in a legal market and people are allowed to buy it and grow it themselves legally,” noted Emery, whose husband is in a federal prison in Seattle awaiting sentencing on seed-selling charges.

This part of the article raises a problem I addressed yesterday. Growers and dispensary owners who enjoy a restricted market for their product, worried that an open market will ruin their business. It is a legitimate concern; after all, these people need to live too, and feed their families.

All I can say to those growers and dispensary owners is begin making back-up plans, including ways to get into the legal cannabis business. Marijuana legalization will happen, sooner than later. The costs of marijuana prohibition are just too high for us to pay anymore. It must end, and 2010 is the the beginning of it’s end.

 

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