New pot tax proposals could outprice stoners


The tax man is looking for his cut. Image: Tobyotter/Flickr/CC BY

The idea of a “pot tax” would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. Yet, some lawmakers are contemplating just that, on state and federal levels.

The inevitability of a ‘pot tax’

Marijuana is now legal for recreational consumption in Colorado and Washington state. In addition, it is legal for medical use in 18 states and Washington, D.C. The tide is slowly turning as more and more Americans are supporting amnesty for the Outlaw Hemp. And with acceptance comes the inevitable — taxation.

Several pushes for a “pot tax” have been made recently.

Contribution for Colorado Kush

Colorado’s Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force met for the last time on Feb. 28, finalizing its recommendations to lawmakers regarding the regulation of the state’s new legal weed law. It strongly urges that the party hemp, like other regulated intoxicants, be taxed, taxed, taxed.

The task force recommended a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale purchases — the maximum called for under Amendment 64. It also suggested an additional tax at the retail level above state and local sales taxes. It did not recommend a specific rate for that special tax, but, according to the Denver Post, 25 percent was used as “an example.”

That ain’t just stems and seeds.  But the voters will have to weigh in before any taxes are signed into law.

Tea tariff in Washington

On Wednesday, March 6, Washington state lawmakers passed a tax bill, 59-38, that would earmark any future marijuana tax revenue for early learning programs. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Shoreline, said there was no better use for the potentially hundreds of millions in annual revenue. She said that early eduction is linked to youths who avoid legal troubles later in life.

Fines for federal fatties

And on a federal level, last month Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a bill to not only remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, but to also provide a basis for the potent plant to be heavily taxed by the feds in the states where it is legal. It would also levy an excise tax on wholesalers, and a separate occupational tax for those working in the new industry. That would create a rich source of badly-needed revenue for the nation’s economy.

Should all these tax bills and recommendations become law, smoking pot could become a rich man’s diversion. Like many cigarette smokers in recent years, the heavy burden of taxation may drive some to — gasp! — clean living.


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