Legalize MJ and Reap The Revenues for California

Legalize MJ and Reap The Revenues for California
Posted by CN Staff on March 02, 2009 at 05:47:08 PT
By Dale Gieringer, Special To The Mercury News
Source: San Jose Mercury News
California -- With the state out of money, the economy in a tailspin and our prisons overflowing, California's laws against marijuana make no economic sense. Every year, the state shells out millions in taxpayers' dollars to arrest, prosecute and imprison marijuana offenders in a vain attempt to stamp out its use. Meanwhile, legal and more dangerous drugs such as tobacco and alcohol are generating billions in revenue for the state.
California taxpayers would benefit from a bill by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, that would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adult use. The bill would establish a state licensing system for producers and distributors, who could sell to adults over 21.Producers would pay an excise tax of $50 per ounce, or about $1 per joint. Additional revenue would be generated from sales taxes. Altogether, tax revenue would be on the order of $1 billion, comparable to the cigarette tax. This is a common sense, fiscally conservative policy that would regulate cannabis in a manner similar to other legal intoxicants and raise much-needed revenue.At the same time, this policy would eliminate marijuana-related crime and law enforcement expenses, which include an estimated $170 million annually for the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of marijuana offenders. It would likewise put an end to such prohibition-related problems as the proliferation of black market dealers, grow houses, smugglers and pirate gardeners on public lands.Finally, a legal marijuana industry could generate substantial additional economic benefits in legal employment, business and payroll taxes, and spinoff industries  like the wine industry, which currently contributes $50 billion to California's economy.History shows that California's laws against marijuana have failed. Only after being outlawed did marijuana become widely popular, eventually spreading to millions of Californians. By 1975, enforcement costs had become so high that the Legislature decriminalized possession of small quantities under the Moscone Act, saving the state $100 million each year.Despite dire predictions by opponents, decriminalization had no perceptible effect on marijuana use by either adults or young people. Nonetheless, production and distribution remained illegal, causing continued prohibition-related problems. In 1990, the California Research Advisory Panel urged further decriminalization, noting that "an objective consideration of marijuana shows that it is responsible for less damage to society and the individual than are alcohol and cigarettes."In 1996, California voters legalized the medical use of marijuana in Proposition 215 (though neglecting to establish a legally regulated supply system). Contrary to the predictions of opponents, marijuana use by youths actually declined after Proposition 215's passage, but arrests continued unabated. In 2007, marijuana-related arrests jumped to 74,119  their highest level since the Moscone Act. California now has more than 1,500 marijuana prisoners, more than 10 times as many as in 1980. Marijuana accounts for 61 percent of the illicit drug traffic from Mexico, where prohibition-fueled gang wars have killed over 6,800. In California, agents eradicated a record 5 million illegal plants last year, up more than tenfold since 2003. The value of the illegal crop has been estimated as high as $14 billion, enough to qualify as the state's leading crop.Ammiano deserves credit for recognizing that the only way to solve the marijuana problem is to legalize, tax and regulate it. As usual, California is ahead of the rest of the nation. Ammiano's bill provides a pathbreaking blueprint for change that would benefit our economy, safety and freedom by making marijuana a winning proposition for California.Dale Gieringer is the director of California NORML - - (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), a supporter of Ammiano"s legalization bill. He wrote this article for the Mercury News.Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)Author: Dale Gieringer, Special To The Mercury NewsPublished: March 1, 2009Copyright: 2009 San Jose Mercury NewsContact: letters mercurynews.comWebsite: Articles:Reefer-Tax Madness Proposals: Calif. Sees Tax , N.J. Eyes MMJ
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on March 06, 2009 at 16:45:17 PT
On the other hand,
if it passes I can't help but think the state legislators in California must have a pretty good clue something like Federal legalization is on the horizon.
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on March 06, 2009 at 16:41:10 PT
Apparently they did! Your pointing it out was the first I'd heard of that part.So this, if it passes, would be really some sort of pre-legalization... ready in case the Feds legalize?Not that I don't think pre-legalization is a good idea for states. I do. It would "Send a message", a powerful one, as our opposition likes to say. But I thought this bill was more than that. I am disappointed to learn this. I hadn't read the actual bill.Thank you.
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Comment #7 posted by Lucas on March 06, 2009 at 13:22:03 PT
this bill only applies if the feds legalize
did everybody miss this in the actual bill text:"when federal law permits the possession and sale of marijuana "
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Comment #6 posted by itsonlyaplant on March 02, 2009 at 16:48:40 PT
It's nice to see
It's nice to see major news organizations such as the SJ Mercury running articles about cannabis reform in their paper, BUT, its in the opinion section. What we need is articles on the front page. Perhaps with enough opinion there will one day be more front page headlines. I mean DRUG WAR KILLS THOUSANDS IN MEXICO is constantly there but the root cause is never addressed. Varying figures swirl about the percentage of revenue generated by cannabis for narco-cartels, and even Lou Dobbs is up in arms about so-called ban on guns because of the violence. The one thing I never hear is..... oh by the way the guns aren't the problem, cannabis prohibition is. If between 61-80% of revenue is due to cannabis....HELLOOOOO... the ONLY way to end it is taxation and regulation. If they announced TODAY that cannabis prohibition were repealed, you would hear mass sobbing from south of the border from kingpins due to the fact that they would be OUT OF BUSINESS. I'm no a business man but I do understand supply-and-demand and the black market. Even if there were a $50 tax per ounce of cannabis, that would STILL drive the price so low it wouldn't be profitable for the cartels to continue their rampage. Keep up the good fight.
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Comment #5 posted by The GCW on March 02, 2009 at 11:50:24 PT
That would be known as clear cutting.
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on March 02, 2009 at 08:27:43 PT
"is a 1.12 gram joint"
What we here at Hunky Doreyville call a Hunky Doreyville pinner!When I roll a joint, we set it down on two saw horses, I hold a blow torch to one end while my wife puffs on the other end. After one hit she passes out, I call 911. Not for her but to put out the joint! She is always OK again in about two or three days!We're growing a strain this year called Indica Sequoia. At harvest I plan to fall them with a chain saw and haul them out on logging trucks.
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Comment #3 posted by MarijuanaSavesLives on March 02, 2009 at 08:20:31 PT
I feel it...
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Comment #2 posted by knightshade on March 02, 2009 at 07:09:48 PT:
1 dollar per joint
is a 1.12 gram jointi dont have the money to roll em that bighahaballers!
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on March 02, 2009 at 05:59:32 PT
Should there be stiffer penalties for people who fund gangs by buying drugs? YESNO
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