Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Just Say "Whoa"

Do we really need another opinion or comment article about legalizing pot? It looks like we do, actually.

For the sake of fairness, I'm talking about being on either side of the fence, here. You're either for it or against it, you've got your reasons why, and that's that. It's pretty difficult to get someone to switch sides, so to speak.

But here goes.

As it currently stands, THE DRUG is illegal in the eyes of the federal government. In some states, though, it is either legal or "tolerated", meaning it doesn't make you a criminal, worthy of spending significant amounts of time during your life locked in a cage at the behest of the prison industry, a powerful revenue generating machine.

(Holy cow, drug laws in this country really are cruel and arcane.)

California probably gets the most press and notoriety for their weed, pardon me, cannabis laws. As most of you (hopefully) know, "medical" marijuana is legal. You can get a prescription for it (can I get an "AMEN" from the Vicodin, Xanax,and Ritalin crowd?). All you have to do is see a doc, give him/her your "reason" (just about any will do), and there you have it. You've got your 'script. You go buy it.

You buy it tax-free.

The Feds still have the right to bust you for having it, though. They can bust the ones selling, too. Under the Bush regime, states' rights were quashed regularly. Drug laws were heavily enforced. The War on Drugs continued to be waged with misguided force and might.

The prison industry was, and still is, thriving. One of the few government budgets that gets regular increases, actually, despite the recession and/or depression. God bless America.

Just last week, though, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that the current administration will not make federal enforcement a priority (read: bigger fish to fry). And the state of California is totally broke.

Big time.

Wait a minute, so is Illinois. Chicago sold off all of the parking meters for a quick fix, right (get it? quick. fix... never mind)? Midway airport was also sold off.

A friggin' airport.

Come to think of it, there are a lot of states in the country that are teetering on the edge of destruction (how about yours, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal?).

So you know what that means, right? We're going to have no choice but to legalize it because we need, repeat, need, the tax money. And just as the drug is currently illegal, so is collecting tax money from it. So principles be damned; there's a lot of dough to be had, that's for sure. After all, the black market has been alive and well since I don't even know. (In today's Sun-Times, columnist Steve Huntley, whom I usually find annoyingly conservative, lays out some of the specific economics of what legalization would mean to California. It's fascinating. Read it yourself if you can.)

There can be no tax money to be had if the laws don't change. Just like it was during the prohibition of booze. The economy was in horrible shape then, too. Funny how the ol' catch-22 gets us in the end.

So it goes...


  1. "You buy it tax-free."

    That simply is not true. Sales tax is (or should) be included in the price of the purchase. Not only does the dispensiary collect sales tax, but also pays federal and state taxes. The owners (and employees) of the 'farm'acies also pay federal income tax on their earnings. So even though it's technically illegal, the federal government is still more than happy to collect the taxes.

  2. thanks for that, anonymous. i did some research and found that dispensaries are subject to sales tax laws, yes, but that they aren't required to disclose what they sell. This is where the grey area lies.

    growers (wholesalers) pay nothing, as that aspect of the biz is very much still underground.

    here is is a link to a pdf of the rules:


    As far as income taxes collected from these businesses, those are income taxes, not sales taxes.

  3. and then all the weed hustlers will loose money...