As I'm reading this article, I can see how taxing weed could be a good idea. Why shouldn't our financially strapped state try to cash in on this
14 billion dollar a year cash crop. There's lots of money that can be made including the sale of weed paraphenelia like bongs, pipes, etc.
The flip side to this is that if we legalize weed, the state may actually see just how dependent it has been on the incarceration of Black and Brown folks. That's the thing not talked about, but at the end of the day we may find that a good deal of money has gone into putting folks away for the sale of weed, the battle over turf to sell that weed etc. Will we suddenly have a bunch of prison guards, prison contractors and police out of work if we legalize weed? Will we have folks who have made a career talking up the evils of marijuanna suddenly out on the streets?
Will the street gangs and other criminals turn to other types of crime once they realize that selling weed is no longer profitable? Will my neighborhood weed seller turn to petty crimes like jacking my car battery or stereo?
Personally i think weed should be legal. And I would love nothing more than to see the prison industrial complex taken down. But lets seriously think this thing through. We can start by making sure a certain amount of tax dollars from weed sales go to rehabilitating and getting incarcerated folks job ready. lets make sure they go to school, get a degree etc.
We might also look at growing the weed on the prison grounds. And I'm very serious when I say this, use the cultivation of weed as a entry way into the Green economy. Everything from building and installing solar panels to cultivating crops are job skillz these inmates can learn. From harvesting to packaging to distribution and sales. All that can take place from behind the walls.
Bottomline is we better start accounting for how the legalization of weed will impact our lifestyle and economy from top to bottom. And I say this not to be funny, but will we suddenly have a different type of turf war over the sale that needs to be accounted for. Should weed only be sold state side. Meaning you can only buy Cali weed in Cali? Or do we suddenly start having unintended importation tariff battles if other states follow suit. I mean people back East are only gonna want Cali or Washinton state weed-What will that do to their weed dependent population who will be putting money elsewhere and not into their respective states?
Taxing Pot Could Become a Political Toking Point
Tuesday 24 February 2009
by: Eric Bailey, The Los Angeles Times
An assemblyman from San Francisco argues that it's time to tax and regulate the state's biggest cash crop in the same manner as alcohol. Opponents say it would create new costs for society.
Sacramento - Could Cannabis sativa be a salvation for California's fiscal misfortunes? Can the state get a better budget grip by taxing what some folks toke?
An assemblyman from San Francisco announced legislation Monday to do just that: make California the first state in the nation to tax and regulate recreational marijuana in the same manner as alcohol.
Buoyed by the widely held belief that cannabis is California's biggest cash crop, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano contends it is time to reap some state revenue from that harvest while putting a damper on drug use by teens, cutting police costs and even helping Mother Nature.
"I know the jokes are going to be coming, but this is not a frivolous issue," said Ammiano, a Democrat elected in November after more than a dozen years as a San Francisco supervisor. "California always takes the lead - on gay marriage, the sanctuary movement, medical marijuana."
Anti-drug groups are anything but amused by the idea of California collecting a windfall from the leafy herb that remains illegal under federal law.
"This would open another door in Pandora's box," said Calvina Fay, executive director of Save Our Society From Drugs. "Legalizing drugs like this would create a whole new set of costs for society."
Ammiano's measure, AB 390, would essentially replicate the regulatory structure used for beer, wine and hard liquor, with taxed sales barred to anyone under 21.
He said it would actually boost public safety, keeping law enforcement focused on more serious crimes while keeping marijuana away from teenagers who can readily purchase black-market pot from peers.
The natural world would benefit, too, from the uprooting of environmentally destructive backcountry pot plantations that denude fragile ecosystems, Ammiano said.
But the biggest boon might be to the bottom line. By some estimates, California's pot crop is a $14 billion industry, putting it above vegetables ($5.7 billion) and grapes ($2.6 billion). If so, that could mean upward of $1 billion in tax revenue for the state each year.
"Having just closed a $42 billion budget deficit, generating new revenue is crucial to the state's long-term fiscal health," said Betty Yee, the state Board of Equalization chairwoman who appeared with Ammiano at a San Francisco news conference.
Also in support of opening debate on the issue are San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey and retired Orange County Superior Court Judge James Gray, a longtime legalization proponent.
"I'm a martini guy myself," Ammiano said. "But I think it's time for California to ... look at this in a truly deliberative fashion."
He sees the possibility of an eventual truce in the marijuana wars with Barack Obama now in the White House.
A White House spokesman declined to discuss Ammiano's legislation, instead pointing to a transition website that says the president "is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana."
Several cities in California and around the nation have adopted laws making marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority, including Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Denver and Seattle.
Oakland went even further in 2004, requiring pot to be taxed if it is legalized.
But where Ammiano sees taxes, pot foes see trouble.
They say easier access means more problems with drug dependency among adults, heavier teen use and an increase in driving while high.
"If we think the drug cartels are going to tuck their tails between their legs and go home, I think we're badly mistaken," Fay said.
"They're going to heavily target our children."