Reefer-Tax Madness

Reefer-Tax Madness
Posted by CN Staff on February 25, 2009 at 04:47:09 PT
Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles, CA -- Today's culture warriors have better things to argue about than pot-smoking hippies, yet federal marijuana laws are still stuck in the Nixon-era days when conservatives feared that reefer madness was destroying the minds of America's youth. Amid that time warp, efforts by California and other states to nudge Washington in the direction of more sensible drug laws have largely been welcome. But whether or not you're in the camp that thinks marijuana should be legalized, a proposal to regulate and tax its sale as a way of helping to balance California's budget is an idea whose time has not come.
A bill from Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco -- where else?) that would do precisely that was introduced Monday. It would, first, decriminalize the possession and sale of marijuana under state law, and, second, set up a system for regulating and taxing it. The sales and taxation part only happens, though, if the federal government decriminalizes marijuana too, or at least allows states to make their own decisions about the drug.Ammiano and his supporters argue that the state is losing out on more than $1 billion a year in tax revenues because its biggest cash crop, marijuana, is illegal and therefore not taxable. Further, they argue that by passing the law, the state would send a strong message to Congress and the Obama administration about revisiting federal marijuana policies.It is almost beyond dispute that the federal laws are unjustified by science or common sense. Under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has no medical use and cannot be prescribed by a physician. The many medical uses of marijuana are well documented, and it is not nearly as addictive or intoxicating as less-restricted Schedule 2 drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Moreover, the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, can be sold in pill form as a Schedule 3 drug. So what makes the plant so dangerous?The problem with Ammiano's bill, AB 390, is that it would only widen the gray area between California and federal laws on medical marijuana. Though the state's acceptance of medicinal marijuana has brought many public benefits, it also has resulted in even more illicit cultivation in places such as Humboldt County, as well as legal and regulatory chaos. AB 390 would do nothing to increase tax revenues in the absence of federal action, and would probably only further enrich the state's marijuana black market.The Obama administration should reexamine the Controlled Substances Act because it's the right thing to do, not because of an ill-considered taxation scheme from California.Note: For a California Assemblyman's proposal to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana to work, the federal government would have to alter its drug laws.Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Published: February 25, 2009Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: Articles:Pot Proposals: Calif. Sees Tax , N.J. Eyes MMJ Pot: Bill Sees Cash Harvest for State 
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Comment #11 posted by observer on February 26, 2009 at 11:40:54 PT
widen the gray area
The problem with Ammiano's bill, AB 390, is that it would only widen the gray area between California and federal laws on medical marijuana.That's not a problem (except for power-hungry federales, and Bible-belt control freaks who lust after and are hell-bent on dictating what adults do in their homes in California). THis is the way the federals were forced to back off during the 1930s for Prohibition I. This is an intentional strategy of stretching the federales too thin to bust every cannabis user, grower, and seller in America. (Lord knows the feds would like to do that, but can't.) 
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on February 26, 2009 at 11:09:38 PT
Taylor "Dicey issue"
It does seem to be getting less and less dicey. Doesn't it?Keep going. Keep working from every direction, wherever you are, whatever you can do. Meet in the middle. Sounds like a plan.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on February 25, 2009 at 18:31:14 PT
We need everything. There isn't one way to approach an issue but many ways. 
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Comment #8 posted by Taylor121 on February 25, 2009 at 18:15:16 PT
Change can only happen when states push
The Feds just won't budge on this issue unless states have laws on their books that legalize marijuana. Asking Congress to reexamine the CSA isn't going to change any minds. There has to be grassroots pressure. There has to be multiple states passing legalization laws and trying to implement their own system the best they can and overwhelming DC before they get the message. I wish it was different. I wish Obama would strongly push for Federal legislation that would allow states to decide their own policies, but he won't, and neither will the Dems or Republicans in Congress. I even wish they put some standards in place. But the only way is to continue to push on the grassroots level. I hate it too because it does create confusion, but the confusion only exists because the Federal government stands in the way of reason. The Federalist system is meant to partially address issues that the Federal government isn't and the state and local governments are.QUESTION: If California and other the many other states hadn't passed medical marijuana legislation, do you honestly believe Congress and Obama would be nearly as open to the idea? IMO, they wouldn't even give it a second thought because they wouldn't see any grassroots pressure and the issue is too dicey to just do on their own. 
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on February 25, 2009 at 13:51:57 PT
States should start Pre-Legalizing. They pass the laws and have them in place, legalities taken care of, by the time the Feds lumber into motion, on something that absolutely has to be done.Otherwise... when the Feds change policy the states will then have to decide how they will handle the situation and get it all done and in motion. Pre-Legalizing is making plans, deciding ahead of time. Pre-Legalizing is preparation and Pre-Legalizing, as a policy, will have it all ready to go. Legislatures need to do it while they are in session. Ours is in session right now and when they finish up this session they will not have another for two years.Pre-Legalizing sounds like it could be a good idea. I know I've heard of something like it before in another situation about something else, perhaps.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on February 25, 2009 at 08:39:57 PT
If we really want to win this war on cannabis we need to cover every angle there is. I guess we need to nicely nag them until they finally give in and give up. Gary Locke might be the Commerce Secretary. He was the Governor of Washington during the time of liberalizing marijuana in that state. There's something happening here. I don't think he is for cannabis but I don't think he is a cannabis hater for lack of a better way of saying it.
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Comment #5 posted by dongenero on February 25, 2009 at 08:13:42 PT
top down vs bottom up
I no longer care about the argument of whether cannabis laws should be changed from the top down vs the bottom up.It is only by grass roots efforts and bottom up change that any progress has been made. I agree we need to push for federal change but I wouldn't for a minute let up on change from the citizen or state level up. I say attack the laws on every front possible. If there is overwhelming bottom up support, it will only grease the wheels for federal change. It smooths the political path around obstructionist Republican legislators by essentially providing legislators with mandate from constituents as well.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on February 25, 2009 at 07:47:08 PT
OT: Stock Market
I thought that the market would fall again today because they don't like Obama. He is watching them too closely for their comfort.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on February 25, 2009 at 07:37:42 PT
I agree with you. I have never been involved in the stock market. We only put the little bit of money we have ever had in real property. Stuff we like really. I don't think taxing will help in the long run. Money is a drug. Power is a drug too.
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Comment #2 posted by goneposthole on February 25, 2009 at 07:32:35 PT
tax madness
not reeferUnfortunately, the economic downward spiral will continue.Without any doubt, the stock market has lost some 48 percent of its value since October of 2007.Millions more jobs are going to be lost. I know, it is really depressing. That is because it is an economic depression.If you listen to Obama on the tube, there is hope. The economy is in the dumps, but you don't have to be.'Give us this day our daily reef and forgive those who won't let us'If you want to lift the economy out of the depression that it is in and have people feel better about themselves and be generally happy, then legalize cannabis. It is a very simple solution.If the current maelstrom of economic malaise is acceptable, it will get madness
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 25, 2009 at 05:25:39 PT
I Agree With This
Excerpt: The problem with Ammiano's bill, AB 390, is that it would only widen the gray area between California and federal laws on medical marijuana.
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