Decriminalize the marijuana business
New statewide poll of ca voters say 65% support legalizing #marijuana
— joegarofoli (@joegarofoli) October 17, 2013
Slowly, the personal use of marijuana is becoming legal across America. The Council on State Governments reported:
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but last year, residents in both Colorado and Washington voted to make recreational use of the drug legal, essentially ignoring the 1970 law. Although these states have legalized a federally identified illegal drug, they are not the first to do so.
Starting with California in 1996, 21 states have made the use of medical marijuana for ailing patients legal. Of those 21, 16 states have decriminalized those found to be holding small amounts marijuana, six of which were added in 2013.
Then, last August, the U.S. Department of Justice affirmed that it would not seek to stop or prohibit the laws passed in Colorado and Washington, easing tensions between the states and federal government.
This was a big step forward for the U.S. Department of Justice, but a federal hurdle remains. The CSG again:
One major issue is the financial regulatory implications of creating a legal marijuana industry. As it is still a federal crime to possess or sell marijuana, many banks are reluctant to accept money from the marijuana dispensaries for fear of prosecution from the federal regulators and law enforcement. This makes marijuana dispensers cash-only businesses, increasing the likelihood of crime, such as robberies. It also makes the industry impossible to audit and even harder to tax.
Now we are getting to the real reason behind the decriminalization push. Strict banking laws will restrict the growth of a new business. How would a dispensary owner deposit the cash it collects? It is also difficult to tax sales handled in cash and it creates hurdles for states that are creating new tax collection systems. Colorado views marijuana taxes as an important new revenue source. The Denver Post Editorial Board writes:
Legalized recreational marijuana was sold to Coloradans as a proposition that not only would pay for its own regulation, but generate millions for school construction, too.
It’s time to make good on those promises.
Within days, voters will receive mail ballots, which will include a question on statewide marijuana taxes dubbed Proposition AA.
The measure proposes a 15 percent marijuana excise tax that would go toward school construction, and a 10 percent sales tax to pay for the retail regulatory structure.
We hope Colorado voters do not hesitate in approving this crucial piece of the effort to normalize personal marijuana use, yet ensure pot is kept out of the hands of children.
A recent poll suggests that Texans are ready to begin decriminalizing marijuana for some interesting reasons:
[Nathan Jones, a postdoctoral fellow in Drug Policy at Rice University] attributes the poll results in part to Texans’ libertarian attitudes on spending tax dollars to enforce the state’s marijuana policy and the cost of incarcerating drug offenders. The state also loses money due to lost productivity, when a non-violent offender is released from prison and is unable to find a good job.
This is one of the most important reasons to decriminalize marijuana. It costs municipalities a lot of money to enforce the law and incarcerate those who violate it. This is certainly money that could be more efficiently spent paying teachers or caring for the elderly.
Pot is becoming legal. The federal government needs to step up its efforts to decriminalize the business.