View Poll Results: Should Marijuana be legalized, state regulated and taxed

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  • Yes, I think it's an idea whose time has come

    14 82.35%
  • No, I don't think it's a good idea

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Thread: Is it time to Legalize Pot?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Smurf-Herder's Avatar
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    Default Is it time to Legalize Pot?

    With the economy in shambles, legalizing and taxing pot could potentially bring in close to a quarter trillion dollars nationally in tax revenues, retail sales and law enforcement savings, based on the below estimates for California. Not to mention the billions spent over the years arresting and prosecuting otherwise innocent people being saved; between law enforcement, court costs and imprisonment. Along with the by-products (stems and lower-grade hemp) leading to job creation and economic growth in the textile and biofuels industry.

    I'm also thinking of the thousands of lives ruined, by being arrested, people losing their jobs and in some cases losing their children; for the victimless crime of enjoying their preferred method of relaxation, in the privacy of their own homes. IMO, using a substance far less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes.

    I'm speaking of the same level of responsible use expected of those using alcohol - IE: not driving or going to work under the influence. And distribution being through state licensed outlets, like liquor stores; with an appropriate tax to boost government revenues, when the economy really needs the money.

    It's already legal for medical use and decriminalized for recreational use in 13 states. In Massachusetts, you recieve a ticket for $100 fine for possession up to an ounce now. And in Alaska, you can already legally possess an ounce with no fine or penalty whatsoever. I think it would make a huge difference to everyone concerned, if we were just to legalize it once and for all, regulate distribution to adults through state licensed stores; and help the economy with a 20% tax revenue.

    See the articles below for some details:

    Schwarzenegger: Time To Debate Legalizing Pot

    In the last week or two, proposals to legalize medical marijuana have advanced in Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

    But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken a significant step further, saying on Tuesday that it's time to debate legalizing marijuana for recreational use in California.

    "I think it's time for debate," he said in response to a reporter's question. "I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues -- I'm always for an open debate on it."

    Thanks to a 1996 ballot measure, medical marijuana is already legal under California law, though local officials have substantial discretion. Although that conflicts with federal law, the Obama administration has chosen not to target California medical marijuana dispensaries.

    "Most Californians support the idea of making marijuana legal," Aaron Smith, the California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told CBSNews.com. "Right now, the state is in a budget fiasco that not going to go away soon... It's about time they look outside the box at ways of generating revenue."

    State legislator Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat, introduced a bill in February to legalize recreational marijuana. Bill AB 390 would license "commercial cultivators of marijuana" and establish a complicated web of regulations and tax rules they and retailers must follow.

    It could raise over $1.2 billion a year in new tax revenues, assuming a $50-an-ounce tax, according to one analysis.

    "This is only going to increase the governor's popularity," Smith said. "We have solid polling data showing that a majority of Californians are ready for this. It's a good political move, though I don't think he necessarily did it for those reasons alone."

    A Field poll (PDF) released on April 30th found that 56 percent of the state's registered voters support legalizing marijuana and taxing its proceeds.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/05...y4996114.shtml


    California NORML Report
    by Dale Gieringer, Ph.D. - Updated Feb. 2009

    Marijuana Legalization Could Yield California Taxpayers Over $1.2 Billion Per Year

    Additional Spinoff Benefits Up To $12 -$18 Billion

    While California struggles to address the state's swelling budget deficit, the legalization of marijuana looms as an attractive way of raising revenue for the state.

    California NORML estimates that a legally regulated market for marijuana could yield the state at least $1.2 billion in tax revenues and reduced enforcement costs. A basic $50/ounce excise tax (roughly $1/joint) would yield about $770 - 900 million per year plus another $240-360 million in sales taxes. In addition, the state would save over $170 million in enforcement costs for arrests, prosecutions and prison. Additional benefits would accrue from increased employment and spinoff industries. Total retail sales of marijuana could be on the order of $3-$5 billion, with total economic impact of $12-$18 billion including spinoff industries such as coffeehouses, tourism, plus industrial hemp.

    California NORML's analysis of the benefits of marijuana legalization are as follows:

    * An excise tax of $50 per ounce of marijuana would raise about $770 - 900 million per year.

    * Retail sales on the legal market would range from $3 - $4.5 billion, generating another $240 - 360 million in sales taxes.

    * Legalization would save over $170 million in law enforcement costs for arrest, prosecution, trial and imprisonment of marijuana offenders. Need for CAMP helicopter surveillance would also be eliminated.

    * Based on experience with the cigarette tax, total revenues of $1.5 - $2.5 billion might ultiimately be realized.

    * Based on experience with the wine industry, the total economic activity generated by legal marijuana could be nearly four times as great as retail sales, around $12 - $18 billion. Amsterdam-style coffeehouses would generate jobs and tourism. If the marijuana industry were just one-third the size of the wine industry, it would generate 50,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in wages, along with additional income and business tax revenues for the state.

    * Industrial hemp could also become a major business, comparable to the $3.4 billion cotton industry in California.

    Details of California NORML's analysis follow below.


    Revenue from Taxation of Legal Marijuana:

    (A) Consumption: More than 1.95 million Californians

    According to the US Dept of Health & Human Services SAMHSA 2007 survey of drug use, 1.95 million Californians admit to having used marijuana in the past month. Insofar as these figures are based on self-reporting of illicit activity, they are probably on the low side.

    According to a 2002-4 SAMHSA survey, daily users constitute 20% of this population, or about 400,000 Californians.

    The bulk of consumption is accounted for by "regular" users, who consume marijuana at least several times per week. Included is a small minority of very heavy smokers (10 or more joints per day), who push the average consumption figures upwards. According to a British survey by the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit [1], "regular" users average 2 oz of cannabis per month or about 2 grams per day (a gram yields one or two joints). The population of regular users is somewhat larger than that of daily users. Assuming 500,000 - 600,000 "regular users" in California averaging 2 grams per day, consumption by this group accounts for 1.0 to 1.2 million grams per day. Assuming the remaining ~1.5 million monthly users average one joint every week, this adds another 200,000 grams per day. Total marijuana consumption by Californians may therefore be reasonably estimated at 1.2 to 1.4 million grams per day, or about 0.95 to 1.1 million pounds per year.

    (B) Economic Revenues from Taxation: a $2.7 - $4.5 billion market

    The total value of the domestic marijuana market can be estimated on the basis of its current retail price. Depending on quality, retail price of a single gram (one or two joints) ranges around $10 - $15 ($280 - $420/ounce) for domestic bud, or as low as $5-7 for Mexican grass. For comparison, the prevailing price on the quasi-legal Dutch market is $6/gram. At $10/ gram, the total value of California's domestic marijuana market comes to about $ 4.5 billion per year. In a legal market, prices could be expected to fall. If they fell to current Dutch prices, the retail value of the current market would be $2.7 billion. However, this decrease would be at least partly offset by an increase in consumption. In sum, the total domestic market might reasonably be estimated at $2.7 - $4.5 billion in California.

    Excise tax of $1/joint would yield $800+ million per year

    Excise taxes could be used to regulate the price of marijuana and generate revenues for the state. At current levels of consumption, an excise tax of $1 per gram of marijuana would yield $430 - $510 million per year. A higher tax of $50 per ounce (roughly $1 per half-gram joint) would yield around $ 770 - $900 million, about the same as California's current excise tax on cigarettes.

    Other economic studies have attempted to evaluate the revenues from a marijuana excise tax. According to a study by Caputo and Ostrom [2], a nationwide excise tax would yield $3.44-$12.25 billion (inflation adjusted to current dollars). Adjusted for population, California's share would come to $400 million - $1.5 billion. Similar results were obtained by Gieringer [3], who estimated $3.2 - $6.4 billion based on a nationwide $1 per joint tax, or $400 - $800 million for California. Doubling the tax to $2 per joint could bring the total up to $1.5 billion in California.

    Sales tax would boost total revenues over $1 billion

    In addition to the excise taxes, sales taxes could generate another $240 - $360 million, depending on the size of the total domestic market ($3- $4.5 billion). Added to a $50/oz excise tax, total revenues would be $1 - $1.2 billion

    Another way to estimate the total tax revenues from marijuana is by drawing a parallel with California's current tax on cigarettes. Fully one-half of the current price of cigarettes is accounted for by taxes and fees. On a $3.60 pack, consumers pay a $0.87 excise tax, $0.28 in sales tax, and another $0.74 for the tobacco settlement. A similar 50% level of taxation in a legal $3 - 5 billion marijuana market would yield $1.5 - $2.5 billion.

    SPINOFF INDUSTRIES WITH TOTAL IMPACT OF $12 - $18 BILLION

    A legal market would generate additional benefits in the form of tourism and spinoff industries, such as coffee shops, paraphernalia, and industrial hemp. A comparable example would be California's wine industry, which generates $51.8 billion in economic activity according to the Wine Institute [4]. With $12.3 billion in retail sales, the wine industry generates 309,000 jobs, $10.1 billion in wages, and $2 billion in tourist expenditures. Extrapolating these figures to a legal marijuana market with 25% - 35% as much retail sales, one might expect $12 -$18 billion in total economic activity, with 60,000 to 110,000 jobs, and $2.5 to $3.5 billion in legal wages, which would generate additional income and business taxes for the state. With California taking the lead in marijuana legalization, especially strong spinoff benefits could be expected. For instance, Amsterdam-style coffeehouses would create jobs and be a magnet for tourism.

    A particular spinoff industry of note would be industrial hemp, which California used to grow in the Delta and Imperial Valley. The hemp industry in California could rival the size of the cotton industry, which now generates $3.4 billion in revenues per year according to the National Cotton Council.

    COST OF MARIJUANA ENFORCEMENT IN CALIFORNIA IS OVER $170 MILLION PER YEAR

    The cost of marijuana enforcement in California currently can be estimated at over $170 million per year, as follows.

    State prison

    (1500 prisoners @ $36 K per year - 2008 est.) $54 million

    Jail costs (est. 40% of prison population) $21 million

    Felony prosecution, court & probation

    (est. 8000 felony prosecutions (2007), SF DA's office est. $9250 per case) $74 million

    Felony arrests 16,000 arrests (2007) @ $732/arrest* $11.7 million

    Misdemeanor court costs

    $100 court time/case, 58,000 cases) $5.8 million

    Misdemeanor arrests ($300/arrest,* offset by fines) ----- $0

    California Marijuana Suppression Program (OCJP) $3.8 million

    Total $170.3 million

    Not counted above are costs of non-helicopter surveillance and investigation by local sheriffs and police. Also not counted are the substantial costs of criminal penalties to prisoners and their families.

    * Arrest costs based on report by State Office of Narcotics and Drug Abuse to the Cal. legislature "A First Report of the Impact of California's New Marijuana Law" (1977), adjusted for inflation.

    Sources:

    [1] M. Atha and S. Blanchard, "Self-reported drug consumption patterns and attitudes towards drugs among 1333 regular cannabis users," Published by the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit 1997. Cited in Leslie Iversen, The Science of Marijuana, Oxford Press. 2000, pp. 217-9.

    [2] Caputo and Ostrom, "Potential Tax Revenue from a Regulated Marijuana Market", American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Oct 1994.

    [3] D. Gieringer, "Economics of Cannabis Legalization," in Ed Rosenthal, ed. Hemp Today, Quick Publishing, Oakland 1994.

    [4] California Wine Institute, California Wine Industry Statistical Highlights, 2008. http://www.wineinstitute.org/files/E...yer%202008.pdf

    http://www.canorml.org/background/CA_legalization2.html
    Last edited by Smurf-Herder; 05-10-2009 at 10:52 AM.
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  2. #2

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    That would be a step in the right direction.

  3. #3
    Senior Member California Chrome's Avatar
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    I don't have a problem with marijuana, however, I don't think things like crack should be sold over the counter. Could this be a slippery slope to that?
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  4. #4

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    For years I have believed pot should be legalized and taxed. I also believe that a whole lot of people in high places are getting extremely wealthy by having pot remain illegal.
    “Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne.”

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    Senior Member Smurf-Herder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LadyLiberty7
    I don't have a problem with marijuana, however, I don't think things like crack should be sold over the counter. Could this be a slippery slope to that?
    IMO, pot is no more harmful and even less addicting than alcohol and cigarettes. I don't think we'd be on a slippery slope with marijuana in any way. Drugs like crack are clearly heavily addictive, and physically and psychologically harmful; as well as being a substance not naturally occuring in nature.
    "I am not a number. I am a free man!"

  6. #6
    Senior Member Smurf-Herder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bairdi
    For years I have believed pot should be legalized and taxed. I also believe that a whole lot of people in high places are getting extremely wealthy by having pot remain illegal.
    I believe you're 100% correct on that. Keeping it illegal keeps the price artificially high; making it a huge profit base for organized crime and smugglers.

    Canadian Marijuana Surpasses Wheat as Biggest Crop
    Friday 30th September 2005
    http://www.karygiannismp.com/spip/ar...id_article=218
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf-Herder
    I believe you're 100% correct on that. Keeping it illegal keeps the price artificially high; making it a huge profit base for organized crime and smugglers.

    Canadian Marijuana Surpasses Wheat as Biggest Crop
    Friday 30th September 2005
    http://www.karygiannismp.com/spip/ar...id_article=218
    I would also be willing to theorize that a whole bunch of that profit base has made its way into the hands of many "outstanding citizens" in the US.
    “Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne.”

    Kurt Vonnegut

  8. #8
    Senior Member Smurf-Herder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bairdi
    I would also be willing to theorize that a whole bunch of that profit base has made its way into the hands of many "outstanding citizens" in the US.

    I totally agree with you. I'll even go so far as to say it's been used by the Right to bleed us out of ever-more tax dollars, to gain more control over the population through economic means. If you eliminated weed from the equation, it seriously lowers the amount of funding required for the "War on Drugs". IMO, it's not about solving a problem. It's about keeping the problem in the public's eye, to justify taking more of our money.
    "I am not a number. I am a free man!"

  9. #9

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    Bring on the legalization. It's way past time for this to happen. There are far more important things for us to worry about than pot. Geez!

  10. #10

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    In my mind there is only one issue with legalizing pot and that's some test to determine the amount in the blood system. There are many tests for booze and there should be some limits on the amount of THC in your system
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