Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pipe Dreams.

From today's L.A. Times:

"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.
From the Forbes article, "If the laws change, large beneficiaries might include large agricultural groups like Archer Daniels Midland and ConAgra Foods as potential growers or distributors and liquor businesses like Constellation Brands and Allied Domecq, which understand the distribution of intoxicants." Talk to me, Wall Street.

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?

15 comments:

Raina said...

California needs the cash in the worst way. The Governator would probably consider anything at this point.

David said...

I think it totally makes sense, and I'm not even a big weedhead. This being America of course a huge chunk of the populace will completely lose their shit.

hello gorgeous said...

David - I love when you talk like that. :-)

I don't even smoke pot and I think it's a great idea. Apparently, so do the guys running CNBC because they ran a special on it last week: Marijuana, Inc. - anybody else see it?

I've said it before on the Michael Phelps post - legalize it, regulate it and tax the hell out of it. I mean, you can buy grain alcohol or overproof liquor.

Not to even mention again that if it's California's biggest industry, it already exists, so make them pay their fair share.

Decorina said...

Did you say pie? Where's the pie?

Didn't see the article; I'm going to try to find it on the web. Sign me up for legal pot and hide the pie.

No Bones Just Brains said...

Would this entail a Pot Deli or Bakery?

I feel the "THC-BLT" would be a huge hit.

jen said...

Absolutely legalize it. Everyone knows someone that purchases and smokes pot - why shouldn't states capitalize on money people are obviously willing to spend?

Designers' Brew said...

I agree--not a smoker myself, but I think it makes total sense to legalize it.

Greta said...

Lol. Oh, I'm not gonna fall for this one. I don't smoke weed, Gorgeous. Stop asking me!

hello gorgeous said...

Ah, Greta darlin', you crack me up.

Lolo said...

It makes sense but it's not going to happen until the boomers start filling up their retirement communities and nursing homes and want regular delivery to their rocking chairs. At that point it will be covered by Medicare and you'll have to be old enough to qualify for the Early Bird Special.

erin@designcrisis said...

Even my 87 year old grandfather thinks we should legalize and tax it. And I'm pretty sure he's not a stoner. (pretty sure)

Anonymous said...

Legalization and taxation is a great idea. I do smoke now and then, and would appreciate the legalization and would happily pay the tax. (Not that I feel the need to justify or anything, but I don't drink and don't use any other drugs -- prescription or otherwise.)

The real issue is the Federal response. It is already legal in CA with a prescription -- but the Feds have been exercising their ability to override state law! Just because the state legalizes it, doesn't mean the Feds will recognize that...

Leslie said...

As someone in California who does smoke a "considerable" amount of pot, I have mixed feelings. As a citizen of CA and as a biologist I say HELL YES. I would much rather people be stoned than drunk. Stoners tend to not smash their cars into others and tend to not beat their wives if we compare it to our favorite other taxed vice, alcohol.

As a consumer of the delicious plant, I am alarmed at the $50/oz surtax. It makes me think that while I WANT to support California, I think I will only be able to afford illegal pot which I'm sure will stay around no matter what.

Anonymous said...

I am a pot smoker, from time to time. It's the biggest cash crop here in Kentucky too. I hate how they have made Mary Jane out to be so awful. And then a couple years ago that arrested a poor woman who needed Mary Jane. She had a brain tumor and all sorts of illnesses and when she used her vaporizer and had a little Mary Jane the woman could walk fine and her system went away and gave her a bit of peace for the day.

For me it's a mood enhancer. NO one will ever convince me that Mary Jane that was put her on this earth wasn't put her for medicinal purposes. It's better to use it for depression that to hop yourself upon anti depressants. I have seen anidepressants destroy my personality and others to a horrible extent. I didn't laugh, cry or show any emotion. I was like a zombie. I just deal with depression the best I can and use MJ from time to time to combat my deperssion which has been brought on due to physical problems.

LEGALIZE IT! Think of the money the gov would make and the money we would save not prosecuting!

:)

Anonymous said...

I am a pot smoker, from time to time. It's the biggest cash crop here in Kentucky too. I hate how they have made Mary Jane out to be so awful. And then a couple years ago that arrested a poor woman who needed Mary Jane. She had a brain tumor and all sorts of illnesses and when she used her vaporizer and had a little Mary Jane the woman could walk fine and her system went away and gave her a bit of peace for the day.

For me it's a mood enhancer. NO one will ever convince me that Mary Jane that was put her on this earth wasn't put her for medicinal purposes. It's better to use it for depression that to hop yourself upon anti depressants. I have seen anidepressants destroy my personality and others to a horrible extent. I didn't laugh, cry or show any emotion. I was like a zombie. I just deal with depression the best I can and use MJ from time to time to combat my deperssion which has been brought on due to physical problems.

LEGALIZE IT! Think of the money the gov would make and the money we would save not prosecuting!

:)

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