February 24, 2009

Lawmaker proposes fixing California's budget crisis... by legalizing pot and taxing it.

I ♥ Tom Ammiano.

  • Taxing it at $50 an ounce would be self defeating though. Way too much.
  • I dunno, current street value is about $25-50 for 1/8 oz, or $200-400 per oz. That works out to a 12-25% tax rate. Here in Ohio about 25% of the cost of a pack of cigarettes is tax, so it seems reasonable.
  • I can actually see the Governator getting passively behind that (if he has learned how to get 'passively behind' anything). Under Obama, the Feds could just stay out of the way (but more changes in FBI/DOJ culture will be needed than what he's done so far), and the latest NATIONAL polls show 40% support for legalization (the highest numbers ever polled); in California, it must be higher than that. I'd say the time is right... or it's getting awful close. And an influx of potheads to California will probably raise the State IQ. DISCLAIMER: NOT a pot smoker (tried it twice in social situations where it made things LESS fun for me - later while on a comedy writing staff, I realized I could think much funnier while straight and worked outside the smoke-filled writers' room). Yes, I'm a freak, but don't want to deny what works for some other people.
  • It would be darned interesting if this passed. If the price went up, then you might know that there was pent-up demand for marijuana, and that people had been avoiding it because it was illegal. If the price went down, then you might know that the illegality had been keeping the price high, because of the risk involved in trafficing. If the price stayed the same, I don't know what you might know! There would be some other effects that are unforeseen, such as the decrease in asset forfeiture and the subsequent defunding of many police budgets. I predict that law enforcement will be against it. Some study is in order. I hope our legislators don't botch it.
  • I can't imagine that it is remotely possible for a state to tax something that is banned by the federal government. A state can "legalize" pot, but all they are really doing is saying that only the federal government will be able to charge people for possessing it. But I can't imagine that they can possibly tax something that the federal government says is illegal. If they did, then I imagine the State of California would be trafficking in marijuana on an unprecedented scale.
  • Sounds like a good idea to me. Prohibition seldom works, and often backfires. Look at the gangster era in Chicago during prohibition. Pot being illegal also gives an allure to it that it would loose if it's legal.
  • not to derail, but since we are already on fantasy island re new revenue streams to help fix the economy, I'd like to request a tax pony: ALL RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS WILL LOSE TAX EXEMPT STATUS AND BE TAXED LIKE PRIVATE CORPORATIONS. that's a goldmine there, folks!
  • In many states prostitution is illegal but the federal government doesn't turn down income tax returns from people doing that. So I don't see a problem with the converse: a state taxing what the feds say is illegal. However, if someone is prepared to break a law and grow/buy/sell/smoke something today why would they obey a law that says they have to hand over tax dollars for it tomorrow?
  • Judging from California's attempts to legalize marijuana for medical purposes I don't think this will fly with the fed. However, there is growing popular support for legalizing marijuana and if this passes it could lead to a national discussion on the issue (assuming our representatives in congress pay attention to their constituents and not just their campaign contributors). After all, federal marijuana prohibition was put in place almost a century ago by a fast-track campaign led by special interests, racism, and fear mongering. It's status as a schedule 1 substance is in contradiction to current medical research, but it isn't likely to be reconsidered as long as public opinion is perceived to be in line with the original arguments. I think people supporting this bill have that in mind and will back it regardless of the details.