Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Pot windfall skepticism

Interesting article in The Atlantic expressing skepticism that one of the key selling points for legalising marijuana in Colorado (raising money needed for schools) is likely to work as advertised.

Amusingly, part of the problem is something that sounds like one of those Tea Party/libertarian inspired "let's stop the government getting a cent more than they should" ideas:
What's more, in an awkward (and perhaps embarrassing) twist, all that money could be lost. That’s because, under Colorado’s “Taxpayer Bill of Rights,” if in any given year the state reaps more tax money than revenue forecasters had projected, the state must return that extra revenue to taxpayers. This year, the provision will be triggered because—even though the pot money came in lower than expected—the state collected more tax revenue overall thanks to other industries such as energy and oil. Lawmakers are now crafting a bill that would ask voters this fall to approve an exemption to that provision for the pot tax.
Down in comments, someone makes what I think might be a pretty good point:
A legal market in pot never mattered that much to me. It's absurdly overpriced, considering that it can be easily grown in personal-use quantities. The important thing is to allow legal possession of reasonable quantities (a few plants, a few ounces), legal non-profit transfer and gifting between adults, legal seed sales, and home cultivation. Like household brewing of beer and wine.
Two things I don't want: legal pot as a commercially advertised product on broadcast media, and government dependent on pot as a revenue source. Marijuana is better off as something that's low-key, discreet, and no big deal. It's also better off as a negligible expense, which puts more disposable income into the hands of people who can spend it on something other than a non-poisonous, non-invasive annual weed that's easily cultivated in a few square feet of space, either indoors or outdoors.
 Yes.   It seems to me that a major part of the legalisation problem will be from allowing capitalists to actively promote the market for a substance which the government really has an interest in limiting. 

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