Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010

Californian proposition 19, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, will be voted on this coming Tuesday. The polls suggest that a narrow majority oppose the initiative but the outcome will depend on who turns out to vote on the day. None the less I’m very encouraged that this initiative is on the ballot in California.

The best reason against cannabis prohibition is that it is an illiberal violation of personal freedom. However the arguments that prevailed in removing alcohol prohibition in the USA tended to be economic. And the current campaign suggest that this may be the case again with cannabis prohibition. The cost of prohibition features highly in a lot of the current rhetoric.

And rather than badge this initiative as removing government control over peoples lives, it is often badged as the exact opposite.

It seems that perhaps government control and increased government revenue sells better than notions of liberty.

18 thoughts on “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010

  1. Ironically one of the most lucid voices I have heard on this issue is Kristin Davis, the ex Spitzer madam, who is standing for governor of NY on the anti prohibition ticket.

    Kristin has a finance background, having spent 10 years in Finance where she started as a Trading Assistant. By the age of 25, Kristin was Vice President of a Hedge Fund in charge of Securities Processing, Derivative Accounting and SEC Compliance.She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and has finished the units for her Masters in Psychology. It is therefore reasonable to assume that she knows her shit on this issue.

    She states a damn good argument, merely on the economic side for legalisation.

  2. I agree it’s ironic that the most saleable argument for liberalising something is that the government can tax it.

    The trouble with taxing and regulating cannabis is that unlike cigarettes or alcohol it’s dead easy to grow yourself, and the quality of home-grown will be as good as anything you can buy. Taxes will have to be kept very low or people will just grow their own.

    That or they have the extremely hypocritical position of leagalising dope but making home grown illegal, or the unenforceable position of taxing home grown.

    The numbers in the Kristin Davis link look a bit rubbery. 2 grams would be one hell of a massive joint 😉

  3. Relatively low licence fee for home growing, and punitive penalties if caught without a licence. Added to the fact that the price will drop dramatically when it is legalised, so buying becomes more attractive relative to growing, and the problem, from the govt. point of view, goes away.

  4. They’re pretty good if the fruit-fly don’t get into them. Better then anything you’ll buy in the supermarket. And it’s fun picking the ingredients to make your dinner a minute or two before you eat.
    Lots of work though. Unless you have lots of spare time on your hands, home gardens are not a rational use of scarce time.

  5. Papa, I am not really qualified to comment on the size a 2 gram joint. 🙂

    The issue of taxing it is a contentious one, but if such a tax were reasonable and growing and use were legal, I feel that it would be acceptable to most. The price would decline significantly overall and most people would be prepared to buy rather than grow it themselves. I agree with Tim on the tomatoes, but have given up on them since a family of possums moved in.

    Kristin does point to solid savings in enforcement and the release of imprisoned offenders would lead to considerable and immediate savings. There are many other advantages as well. The police who currently spend their time smashing down doors and arresting people for harmless acts would probably while away their idle hours cracking down on real crime which would substantially benefit the economy.

    She has mentioned that she is the best qualified person to be governor because, as NY politicians are all political whores, she as an ex madam has the experience.

    As an aside to Tim, I once grew a crop of lucerne which had some interesting effects, probably owing to weed contamination:

    (a) The cattle became unusually docile, and

    (b) I kept picking up wallabies, kangaroo rats, etc that were stoned out of their minds.

    I never did find out what was causing it, but feel sure that if I had it would have been a high value crop.

    Interestingly a couple of years a guy was killed in a mob hit after apparently selling a bag of lucerne chaff to a dealer for a million dollars. Well, you get what you pay for.

  6. I do grow parsley which might be a better analogy. Still I suspect tobacco is relatively easy to grow also and most people still buy tobacco retail in spite of the taxes.

  7. From memory Terje there was a gardening magazine, (mainstream) that ran adds for tobacco seed with growing instructions. I am not sure if that is still the case.

  8. TerjeP, the ban might only be on cigarettes. Other tobacco products might be considered noncriminal. I don’t know if the tobacco plant has uses other than for making cigarettes, but if so, that could be the loophole.

  9. There is a fairly interesting assessment of the Prop 19 defeat in Human Events.

    The national press also made much of the defeat of Proposition 19, which would have legalized pot. They missed the real story.

    Pot is readily available everywhere in California. With the collapse of the timber and fishing industries (driven out of business by the greens), northern California pot growers are now the backbone of the local north-coast economy. Legalization would have opened up pot growing all over the state, threatening the profits which are protected by Marijuana prohibition. Local city councils and even local sheriffs in northern California opposed Proposition 19 and campaigned against it.

    The Mexican drug cartels, growing pot in south and central California state and federal forest lands likewise opposed legalization for the same reasons.

    The vote against Proposition 19 was not an anti-drug conservative backlash; it was a business decision by the growers of the state’s most valuable agricultural product to protect their profits.

    Makes sense to me.

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