26 February 2011
California to Collect Sales Tax on Medical Marijuana...
The latest figures that are circulating suggest that the State of California is collecting somewhere between USD 58 million and USD 105 million in tax revenue on medical marijuana sales of between USD 700 million to USD 1.3 billion. First things first, USD 1.3 billion in retail sales of medical marijuana is a whole stack of wacky weed being smoked to ease and alleviate the pain and trauma associated with illness, injury and disease.
The State Board of Equalization, those pencil pushers responsible for deciding who pays sales tax, has determined that dispensaries for medical marijuana are not exempt from paying sales tax. In fact, the article in the LA Times makes the suggestion that some of these dispensaries have been a little on the recalcitrant side in not paying as they should be.
If you are wondering why I am writing about this, then here is the point. I have argued for some time that it is about time that governments made a judgment call on marijuana. If it is argued that tobacco is suitable for sale in spite of increasing amounts of evidence on how bad it is for one's health and the burgeoning flow on costs of providing medical treatment to smokers, then similar arguments can be made for the good ol' 'Mary Jane'.
Perhaps if the state regulated the marijuana trade, there may be a decrease in marijuana related crime. It removes the black market for the product and allows it to be taxed. If governments do not want people to be able to afford it, then tax it at a high rate. In Australia the tax on cigarettes is pretty high. As I was lining up to pay for petrol today, the young woman in front of me was buying a pack of cigarettes. I thought cigarettes were expensive but I did not realize they were like AUD 15+ for a pack of 25.
I am definitely not advocating smoking here. What I am arguing is that there is no common sense in allowing tobacco and alcohol to be legal while other similarly harmful products such as wacky weed are illegal. If people choose to harm themselves by ingesting products that are known to be harmful to them such as tobacco and alcohol (in excessive amounts) then why not allow people to make those similarly bad choices and tax those products as well?
To each their own, I guess.