Legalized pot in N.J. a $300 million tax jackpot?

Cannabis_sativa_(Köhler) cc

Pot should be legal. It should be totally legal. (Not that we condone its use.) Saying that, under the Constitution and per the 10th Amendment, cannabis is an issue which the states individually should decide. In many respects, in the most obvious case of legal nullification to date, that is exactly what’s going on across the nation. This is legitimate progress. Legal cannabis isn’t going to end the world. The sun will still come up. People will still go to church. People will continue to work hard and hustle for the American dream. Life will go on, just as it did before cannabis was made illegal during the big government New Deal days of the 30s.

But there is a big problem with legalized cannabis and it doesn’t come from the effects of the plant. It is that as cannabis legalization is rolled out cronies are lining up to cash in.

I recently spoke with a pot legalization activist in Washington DC. He lamented that DC and Maryland are creating all sorts of barriers to entry custom tailored to shut out any aspiring entrepreneurs. This was the case in Ohio where legalization was on the ballot but was defeated with the help of grass roots (ha) cannabis legalization groups. The state wanted to grant special privileges to a cartel of weed growers and retailers. This state granted privilege would have meant tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars for a lucky few.  Classic and unabashed crony capitalism.

So as pot laws are liberalized one should take time to read the fine print. Construct smart laws now to avoid crony headaches in the years ahead.


The coalition said legalization also would stimulate business, create jobs, and eliminate the cost of enforcing marijuana-possession laws that it says are unfair and unnecessary. More than 24,000 individuals are arrested in New Jersey for marijuana possession each year, with African Americans being penalized three times as often as Caucasians despite similar usage rates, the group said.

The tax proposed in the report would start at 5 percent the first year, then rise to 15 percent the next year and finally be set at 25 percent, which is comparable to Colorado’s 27.9 percent tax. The report projects about 343,100 New Jersey residents and about 100,000 Pennsylvania and New York residents would purchase marijuana at a legal marketplace in New Jersey.

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