November 1, 2013
According to the Associated Press, Colorado residents are jumping up and down at the prospect of taxing people who use so-called recreational marijuana.
Now that marijuana is legal in the state and toking up will not result in a SWAT team showing up at your door and killing the family pet, the state has decided to put a marijuana tax law before the voters.
Polls consistently show Americans favor marijuana legalization.
On Tuesday, the state will permit voters to decide if a 25 percent tax will be imposed on fellow citizens who consumer marijuana. Colorado says a 15 percent tax imposed on weed will go to pay for school construction and an additional 10 percent will be confiscated for “marijuana enforcement.”
Activists are not necessarily against taxation. They just say pot should be taxed like beer. In Colorado, beer is taxed at 8 cents a gallon.
“Our alcohol system is regulated just fine with the taxes they have, so we don’t see any need for this huge grab for cash from marijuana,” said Miguel Lopez, volunteer coordinator for a campaign opposed to Colorado’s pot tax measure. AP describes the activist group as “small,” giving the impression that most Coloradans support the state stealing more money from consumers under the standard excuse that it will be used for the children.
It is interesting to note that possessing marijuana anywhere near a school is a serious crime, according to the federal Drug-Free Schools Act, but the state does not seem to have a problem taxing the drug to pay for schools.
For many Colorado residents, even those who support legalization, the marijuana issue is not about individual choice without government intervention. “Taxes are an opportunity for marijuana to show it can play a valuable role in the community,” Joe Megyesy, spokesman for the campaign promoting the tax measure, told the AP. Once again, collectivist “rights” trump those of the individual.
Politicians on record in opposition to individuals making personal decisions about marijuana support taxation, including Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican Attorney General John Suthers. In short, if it has to do with the state confiscating more money, careerist politicians will support legalization despite their ethical concerns about personal drug use.
In addition to heavy taxation – projected at around $50 an ounce – Colorado government plans to introduce police state tactics and technology to surveil seed-to-sale, in other words the entire production and retail process. The scheme includes widespread video surveillance of licensed growing sites and radio-frequency identification tagging. It will add an additional 10 percent to the retail cost of marijuana.
Because of heavy taxation and tracking of government sanctioned marijuana, it seems more than likely that the old black market system of illegal drug sales will continue. Consumers will naturally shop around for the best price. Government greed and the reflexive impulse to confiscate wealth invariably distorts normal laissez-faire capitalist behavior. If the old black market system of marijuana production and sales overshadows the legalized system, the state will once again engage in a drug war against citizens making individual consumer decisions. This will probably result in additional taxes on state sanctioned marijuana that will be priced out of reach for many.