"An assemblyman from San Francisco announced legislation Monday to ... make California the first state in the nation to tax and regulate recreational marijuana in the same manner as alcohol.
"Buoyed by the widely held belief that cannabis is California's biggest cash crop, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano contends it is time to reap some state revenue from that harvest while putting a damper on drug use by teens, cutting police costs and even helping Mother Nature.
"Ammiano's measure, AB 390, would essentially replicate the regulatory structure used for beer, wine and hard liquor, with taxed sales barred to anyone under 21.
"He said it would actually boost public safety, keeping law enforcement focused on more serious crimes while keeping marijuana away from teenagers who can readily purchase black-market pot from peers."
An economist in Hawaii has published a paper (here) estimating $33 million in cost savings and tax benefits to that state alone.
"...California's pot crop is a $14-billion industry, putting it above vegetables ($5.7 billion) and grapes ($2.6 billion). If so, that could mean upward of $1 billion in tax revenue for the state each year," the Times article continues.
If it's already a $14-billion industry in California alone, who are we kidding to not legalize it and reap the tax rewards from it?
As part of his economic stimulus package, FDR ended Prohibition when he took office in 1933, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and millions in revenue for the federal government at that time.
The Huffington Post did an article on the legalization of pot during the Michael Phelps flap. Go here to read it. From the article, the following points:
- It's estimated by a team of 500 economists, including Nobel laureate Milton Friedman (click here for link to the Forbes article) who advised Nixon and Reagan, that taxing marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes could bring in $6.2 billion annually.
- Job creation: farming, packaging, distribution, and of course, marketing--it's going to be a crowded playing field.
- The Netherlands, where small amounts of marijuana are sold in coffee shops, have a lower rate of drug use of every kind than the U.S.
So, what do you think? Is this a pie-in-the-sky notion (Wait! There's pie in the sky? Awesome!) or is it an idea with true economic merit whose time has come?