A Way Past the Marijuana Dilemma
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A Way Past the Marijuana Dilemma
Posted by CN Staff on January 16, 2013 at 16:09:11 PT
By Pat Oglesby
Source: Huffington Post
USA -- November's votes to legalize marijuana in Colorado and Washington have stuck the executive branch with an awkward choice -- attack state-legal activity, or ignore it. So the administration is dodging the issue as best it can. The legislative branch, though, is not limited to "Just Say No" -- or Just Say Yes. Congress, and only Congress, can calibrate a thoughtful response -- through the taxing power.The problem for the federal government is not so much what folks in two states out West might smoke; the real problem is cheap, state-legal marijuana flooding the country, especially from Colorado, where marijuana taxes are minimal. Legality allows economies of scale that will bring pre-tax prices crashing down.
An executive branch "Yes" to state legalization makes the threat of cheap marijuana nationwide obvious. But saying "No" might not work. Saying "No" would isolate the federal government, because it can't legally make a state return to banning possession. To enforce federal marijuana laws, a new federal police force would have to be brought into a state, and the cost of that single-purpose federal policing, in money and personnel, would be huge. Saying "No" would also shut down useful state regulation and taxation. And juries might hesitate to convict their neighbors who are prosecuted by the federal government while explicitly obeying state law.But there's a middle ground. A strong federal marijuana tax could prevent cheap, legal product from spreading into the other 48 states. A high federal tax could give full rein to state taxes. That is, states could tax first and fully: That's what happened under the old "soak-up" federal estate tax credit for state inheritance taxes, when the federal government gave the states the right to a set amount of death tax, to take or leave. (They took it.) A cautious Congress could also add protective regulations to whatever Colorado and Washington come up with. Marijuana legalization is not going away. The victories in Washington and Colorado made the headlines, but November also saw 46 percent of voters in Oregon support a ridiculous monopoly scheme that would have put all revenue and regulation in the hands of a Cannabis Commission controlled by growers and processors. The closeness of that vote proves that the tide has turned. More sensible plans are coming in other states. Soon.How many billions of tax -- federal and state -- could the marijuana market bear? The official estimate for the new Washington state law is $564 million per year, or about $82 per resident -- not per consumer. Maybe that's off, but extrapolated nationwide, that would work out to about $26 billion. That figure is roughly in line with a $30 billion national marijuana retail market and a tax take of 80 percent of the retail price -- the burden of taxes on cigarettes in Europe. While $24 or $26 billion may not be the yearly tax inflow - who knows? -- marijuana revenue is nothing to sneeze at.The administration's awkward dilemma -- and Congress's likely inaction -- may confirm the popular view that the government of the United States is, as Richard Nixon put it, "a pitiful, helpless giant." But as voters in Colorado and Washington have shown, the political ground can shift overnight.Patrick Oglesby is a former Chief Tax Counsel of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.Source: Huffington Post (NY)Author: Pat OglesbyPublished: January 16, 2013Copyright: 2013, LLC Contact: scoop huffingtonpost.comWebsite:   -- Cannabis  Archives 
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on January 17, 2013 at 09:30:56 PT
Museman and Sam
I wanted to add that I don't hate alcoholics I just have a very strong dislike for Alcohol. My nephew had an opportunity to smoke some fine herb not too long ago and he said he felt so at peace. He said he felt like he could tackle his financial problems created by being fired after 20 years of working for the same company. It breaks my heart that he can't just smoke marijuana and cut back or quit drinking. 
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Comment #7 posted by museman on January 17, 2013 at 09:13:12 PT
Sorry about your nephew. It seems there has been a wave of death and dying among us recently. Most people I know have lost a loved one recently. I lost 3 all in one month.And except for one, alcohol and tobacco (and possibly radiation from Japan) were the destructive elements that led to their deaths.Cannabis is just such a wonderful herb. The law is wrong, and all who say cannabis is harmful are in denial. Yes putting too much smoke in your lungs is potentially harmful -to a degree not really established other than presumption and some common sense about overdoing anything- but I dare say most of the population breathing in their local smog would benefit from its expectorant aspect, and the 'harm' of the smoke just cannot compare to breathing stale carbon monoxide that has been lingering for years and years and years. And if they grew hemp or other cannabis on the rooftops, that problem would be greatly diminished as well.The common sense of the world has been hijacked by law,... Which was established in the first place as a justification for enslaving the human race to a few ruling families. And that has not changed. Yet.
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Comment #6 posted by Sam Adams on January 17, 2013 at 08:37:41 PT
FOM very sorry to hear of your nephew's difficulties, I hope he can get through this OK.When it comes to taxing and how much the market "can bear", I would suggest comparison to tomatoes.How well would the market handle the price of tomatoes going to 10 bucks each? Simple, a black market would form overnight, it's too easy to grow tomatoes. but of course that will be the elephant in the room, the unstated goal of the feds, is to preserve a black market and the militant police society that goes with it.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on January 17, 2013 at 08:33:03 PT
I am fighting to save my nephew life because he is in the advanced stages of alcoholism and lost his job 2 years ago because he tested hot for pot. He has had all the time in the world to drink himself to death now. I had to do an intervention from Ohio to Florida yesterday (sent AA person to his home) because I couldn't get in contact with him. He is close to death and I love him and am furious. If he could have smoked marijuana he wouldn't have done this to himself. I don't hate many things but I hate alcohol.
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Comment #4 posted by museman on January 17, 2013 at 08:11:00 PT
This is the problem
"...legalizing a mood- and mind-altering substance exposes the populace to the same risks that alcohol has wrought."The continuing association of cannabis to alcohol has always been a huge mistake IMO. They are as unalike as any two substances one puts in their body can be. One is benign and has a staggering array of benefits, while the other is toxic poison that always, ultimately kills, and its only real value of use is as a solvent!Yet there is this idea that treating cannabis like alcohol is some kind of 'halfway solution' to prohibition. Its gonna come back and bite us in the ass if we keep allowing that false, erroneous association to continue.IMO
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on January 17, 2013 at 04:45:49 PT
Speaker in Denver dis' cannabis.
William Cope Moyers to speak about addiction and recovery in Colorado
 "For parents wondering how to talk to their teens about drugs in light of Colorado's legalization of marijuana, William Cope Moyers has some advice.
As a recovering addict, father of teenagers and author of the best-selling memoir "Broken" and the new "Now What: An Insider's Guide to Addiction and Recovery," Moyers speaks from experience."The key is to keep the lines of communication open. Having the conversation is, for better or worse, just about all we can do. If not us as the messenger, then who? The Internet, the marijuana lobby, the liquor industry?" asks Moyers."I think the voters of Colorado have made a terrible mistake," he says of the passage of Amendment 64, which legalized the possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana. "I think their intention was good, to want to stop the war on drugs, but legalizing a mood- and mind-altering substance exposes the populace to the same risks that alcohol has wrought. 
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on January 16, 2013 at 21:20:31 PT
Kansas & North Carolina news.
Lawmaker Makes Push for Medical Marijuana in Kansas ("Senate Bill 9") of North Carolininans Support Medical Marijuana"Mecklenburg Democrat Kelly Alexander will introduce a legalization bill to the General Assembly this session."
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on January 16, 2013 at 16:12:11 PT
Taxing Marijuana
If they tax marijuana too high that will not eliminate a black market but create one. A reasonable tax and low cost marijuana could work.
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