Advocates Point To Marijuana as Potential Revenue
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Advocates Point To Marijuana as Potential Revenue
Posted by CN Staff on October 14, 2009 at 13:30:54 PT
By Kyle Cheney, Statehouse News Service
Source: Daily News Transcript
Boston -- A regulated, taxed marijuana trade could help bolster the state’s economy, advocates for legal marijuana said Wednesday at a Revenue Committee hearing.“Whether you like it or you hate it ... it is undeniable in 2009 that marijuana has become inextricably embedded in our culture,” said Richard Evans, a Northampton attorney. “It is ubiquitous and it is ineradicable.”
Evans urged the committee to “put on your green eye shades and give close scrutiny to marijuana prohibition.” He asserted that the revenue the state could reap from a legalized marijuana industry could be comparable to the effect of introducing casinos, although he offered no supporting data.During the hearing, lawmakers heard from a long line of lawyers, professors and young people who argued in favor of legalization, pointing to Massachusetts’s history as a leader on social issues and describing its potential to ease symptoms of Crohn’s disease or migraine headaches. Their testimony dominated the hearing, which also included on the docket bills to raise the alcohol excise tax and to reimburse cities and towns for tax exempt properties owned by non-profits.Backers of legalization spoke on behalf of a bill (H 2929), filed by Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst) at Evans’s request. The proposal would prevent “possession or cultivation of cannabis,” “gratuitous distribution of cannabis to an adult,” and “possession or distribution of cannabis under a valid license” from being considered violations of the law.A preamble to the proposal states that the goal of the bill is “the reduction of cannabis abuse, the elimination of marijuana-related crime and the raising of public revenue.” The bill would establish a council to set up a grading system for marijuana quality and would ban additives, which supporters argued would ensure the health and safety of users.The bill would impose various rates of excise taxes on marijuana retail sales, depending on the concentration of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Marijuana with the highest concentration of THC would be taxed at $250 an ounce, while lower concentrations would range from $150 to $200 in taxes. In addition, licenses to sell marijuana would cost $2,000 a year. Marijuana vending machine sales would be prohibited.Lawmakers on the committee expressed skepticism but offered little in the way of opposition or support. Rep. Lew Evangelidis (R-Holden) wondered whether any other nations have a system of taxation and regulations of marijuana, and Rep. Jay Barrows (R-Mansfield) asked advocates whether they would be confident in the government’s ability to set up a regulatory system.Committee co-chair Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) said he was surprised by one aspect of the arguments.“This is probably the only hearing this committee has ever had or will ever have with this number of people asking to be taxed,” he said.The discussion came nearly a year after Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, replacing the threat of arrest with a $100 fine.But advocates for legalization say decriminalizing possession still leaves open the question of where users would obtain marijuana, which they say is now done on an unregulated, often dangerous black market. They also highlighted the potential medical uses of marijuana and noted that California and Rhode Island were exploring issues surrounding legalization.Rep. William Breault, a member of the Main South Alliance for Public Safety, a Worcester-area organization that advocates for various public safety measures, said legalizing marijuana would be giving political validation to a dangerous drug that is often the cause of impaired driving accidents. He said that in California, where some dispensaries may legally sell medical marijuana, ancillary robberies, shootings and other crimes have resulted.Breault said he is pursuing local efforts to raise fines for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to as much as $500.Noting that driving under the influence of marijuana is already illegal, Rep. Evangelidis wondered whether rates of driving under the influence climb in areas in which marijuana can be obtained legally or with less restriction.During the debate over the decriminalization of marijuana possession last year, law enforcement officials, the Patrick administration and various community groups formed a coalition that unsuccessfully sought to defeat the question. The coalition argued that decriminalization would cause a surge in violent crime, medical problems, impaired driving and youth drug use.“Why would we want to put another monkey on society's back?” Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley asked last year at a rally to oppose decriminalization. “There is no public health or public safety benefit.”Other opponents of decriminalization included Gov. Deval Patrick, Mayor Thomas Menino, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, the TenPoint Coalition, the Black Ministerial Alliance, the Massachusetts Sheriffs Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Dorchester Youth Collaborative.Source: Daily News Transcript (Needham, MA)Author: Kyle Cheney, Statehouse News ServicePublished: October 14, 2009Copyright: 2009 Daily News TranscriptContact: bedwards cnc.comURL: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #7 posted by EAH on October 14, 2009 at 19:40:35 PT:
the tax
Actually, a realistic method of taxation would be to tax THC rather than weight.
Now if they could devise an accurate means of measuring THC content...
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Comment #6 posted by John Tyler on October 14, 2009 at 18:04:36 PT
excessive taxation
At least they are talking about legalization. That is some progress. Now all they have to do is agree on a reasonable tax. I think $2 an ounce is about right. Cannabis retail outlets should only be taxed at the same rate as other retailers.  
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on October 14, 2009 at 17:38:34 PT
ah, a nice trip down memory lane...."Other opponents of decriminalization included Gov. Deval Patrick, Mayor Thomas Menino, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, the TenPoint Coalition, the Black Ministerial Alliance, the Massachusetts Sheriffs Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Dorchester Youth Collaborative."losers!!!
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on October 14, 2009 at 17:17:42 PT
Thank you. I have it posted now.
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on October 14, 2009 at 17:02:32 PT
Hello everyone,
Hemp Farmers Arrested For Planting Hemp at DEAFarmers, Business Owners and Vote Hemp Board Members Arrested Protesting DEA PoliciesWashington, DC — October 14, 2008 On Tuesday October 13th, farmers Wayne Hauge of North Dakota and Will Allen of Vermont were arrested at DEA headquarters in Arlington, VA for planting industrial hemp seeds on the DEA lawn. Also arrested were David Bronner of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Steve Levine of the Hemp Industries Association and Vote Hemp, Isaac Nichelson of Livity Outernational and Adam Eidinger of Vote Hemp. Hemp Industries Association members were in Washington, DC for their annual meeting and to lobby members of Congress to support H.R. 1866, The Hemp Farming Act of 2009.Approximately 20 protesters arrived at DEA at around 10:30 am with signs and ceremonial shovels and began digging and planting industrial hemp seeds on the lawn. DEA security began asking if the protesters had a permit. The protesters explained that North Dakota farmers had applied for DEA permits almost 2 years ago and still had not received a reply. They were arrested a short while later by Arlington County police. All 6 were released later that day after being charged with trespassing.The Washington Post published a good story on the DEA protest today and media around the US is picking up the story.CONT.Web Site: 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on October 14, 2009 at 14:56:00 PT
I don't know. It amazes me.
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Comment #1 posted by EAH on October 14, 2009 at 14:48:25 PT:
Get it right please
Those levels of taxation are crazy. A major goal of legalization is to end the black market. Legal pot has to seriously undercut black market prices. That kind of taxation is going to ENCOURAGE the black market. Why is it that people who don't know what the hell they're doing are in charge of making the rules?!!
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