DEEGAN ON LA-Bring in the bean counters, or would that be the bud counters? Now that recreational marijuana is legal in California, thanks to overwhelming passage of Prop M that was approved by 80% of the voters last March, there will be a steady flow of new tax revenues streaming into the City and the State. 

420 FILE--Though a key argument for legalizing marijuana in the United States is that it would put a tremendous and necessary dent in the domestic and global failure known as "the War on Drugs," a new analysis out Wednesday reveals that federal legalization could also raise more than $130 billion in tax revenue by 2025 while also creating more than 1.1 million new jobs.

The new study was published by New Frontier Data—a research and marketing firm whose stated mission is to "inform cannabis-related policy and business decisions through rigorous, issue-neutral and comprehensive analysis of the legal cannabis industry."

As the Drug Policy Alliance has shown, the criminalization regime and enforcement of keeping marijuana and others drugs illegal costs the U.S. government more than $50 billion annually—that includes the outrageous costs of imprisoning tens of thousands of people for nonviolent drug offenses.

Meanwhile, according to New Frontier CEO Giadha Aguirre De Carcer,  the government would stand to do very well if marijuana, as has been shown in Washington state and Colorado, was taxed as a legal commodity. "The three most common business taxes that any standard business pays to the federal government are federal business taxes, payroll taxes and sales taxes," De Carcer explained. "If cannabis businesses were legalized tomorrow and taxed as normal businesses with a standard 35% tax rate, cannabis businesses would infuse the U.S. economy with an additional $12.6 billion this year."

As opposed to the current patchwork of states that have legalized either medical marijuana, its recreational use, or both, the analysis looked at what could happen if the U.S. government made it legal to sell marijuana nationwide and included these major findings:

  • If full legalization occurred in all 50 states today, there would be an excess of 782,000 jobs, and would increase to 1.1 million jobs by 2025. 
  • Full legalization would result in more legal businesses participating in the market, more consumers participating in the legal market, and more employees on official payrolls, resulting in $4 billion in payroll taxes. By 2025, payroll deductions would increase to $5.9 billion.
  • Assuming a sales tax at the federal level was implemented at 15%, the total tax revenues from 2017–2025 would theoretically be $51.7 billion. This amount of revenue would be entirely new revenue to the U.S. Treasury, as there are currently no federal sales or excise taxes.
  • By combining the business tax revenues, the payroll withholdings based on the theoretical employment required to support the industry, and the 15% retail sales tax, one can calculate the total federal tax revenue potential of legalization: The combined total is estimated to be $131.8 billion.
  • The difference between the current structure and the theoretical model is a $76.8 billion increase in federal tax revenues.

The new data comes in the wake of polling that shows historic levels of support for marijuana legalization nationwide. In October of 2017, a Gallup survey found that 64 percent of Americans now favor legal marijuana—the highest level ever recorded. It's also an issue that receives backing from people across the political spectrum. According to the Gallup poll, a majority of Republicans (51%) are in favor while Independents (67%) and Democrats (72%) support legalization at even higher levels.

(Jon Queally writes for Common Dreams … where this piece originated.)

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BCK FILE--This week, Attorney Jeff Sessions fired yet another shot at California, delivered courtesy of the Trump Administration. For the party that espouses states rights, Sessions threw a punch just days after California rolled out legalized recreational cannabis. 

420-FILE--The Northern California fires that collectively burned hundreds of thousands of acresdestroyed nearly 6,000 homes, and killed 43 people across eight counties in October are leaving a legacy from which it will take the state will take years to recover, with insurance claims at $9 billion and rising.

420 FILE--On the heels of a California law legalizing recreational marijuana use, which took effect Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is planning to rescind the federal policy that has enabled Americans to grow, sell, and use cannabis in places where it has been legalized, without federal intervention, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

"The move will leave it to U.S. attorneys where pot is legal to decide whether to aggressively enforce federal marijuana law," the AP noted, a move that will likely "add to confusion about whether it's OK to grow, buy, or use marijuana in states where it's legal, since long-standing federal law prohibits it." The report cited anonymous sources with knowledge of the decision.

"RED ALERT!" the Drug Policy Alliance tweeted in response to the report. "This is not a drill. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going after legalized marijuana."

In California—which was the first state to legalize medical marijuana—state officials have, according to the Los Angeles Times, "issued dozens of permits for retailers to begin recreational sales this week, expanding a market that is expected to grow to $7 billion annually by 2020."  

California is the sixth state to introduce the sale of recreational cannabis, following Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. In response to ballot measures from the 2016 election, Maine and Massachusetts are expected to start sales later this year—despite protest from state leaders like Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who in November vetoed a law that would have regulated the state's marijuana sales. 

Several states have passed legislation or ballot measures to relax statewide policies of marijuana use for medicinal and, increasingly, recreational purposes. The Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbies in favor of cannabis-friendly laws, tracks the state-by-state rules on its website:

Sessions is a long-time opponent of the nationwide push to legalize recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. Journalist and former lawyer Glenn Greenwald used the news to tweet the analysis that "Conservatives' self-professed belief in federalism was always a huge fraud."

(Jessica Corbett writes for Common Dreams  … where this report was first posted.)

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420 FILE--With the legal sale of recreational marijuana a week away, local governments across California have adopted policies on where and when permitted legal sellers can operate, following the ground rules set up by Proposition 64 – the November 2016 state ballot measure legalizing pot for recreational use beginning Jan. 1, 2018. 

420 FILE--Recreational marijuana sales will be legal in California come Monday morning, but Angelenos will have to wait a day — and will have limited options — if they want to buy cannabis without taking a road trip.

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