Skip to comments.Obama's Pathetic Pot Answer
Posted on 03/26/2009 1:10:42 PM PDT by steve-b
...The dismissiveness toward the question of ending Prohibition as both a good in itself and a form of tax revenue is, however, depressing. His answer was a non-answer. I'm tired of having the Prohibition issue treated as if it's trivial or a joke. It is neither. It is about freedom and it's deadly serious....
(Excerpt) Read more at andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com ...
Actually the tax revenues would just be a byproduct. You'd have a lot of entrepreneurs making profits. From farmers all the way to retailers.
These people would create companies that would create jobs.
What's wrong with that?
You’re not really thinking this through.
The government is considering partial-legalization (as in, legal to buy from an approved source that lines the government’s pockets). In order to protect their revenues, they’re going to have to control it. That means controlling who can produce it, which means kicking down doors, raiding homes and confiscating the private property of those who produce it without their blessing. Who do you think is going to get the government’s permission to produce marijuana? John Q. Farmer who’s fallen on hard times? Not quite.
Corporations with lobbyists who contribute to politicians and can afford the astronomical commercial licensing fees will be producing the weed. Small farmers and entrepreneurs need not apply. The government will have a tighter grip on commercial production than the cartels do now. The number of jobs that will be created might be enough to offset the number of unemployed pot dealers it will create, that’s about it.
And by the time the legal stuff hits the market, it’s going to be taxed to the hilt and twice as expensive as it is now. Which will open the door wide open for personal growers who can grow three or four ounces a year with a single light and some tin foil. And it will also leave a robust, albiet smaller, black market firmly in place.
Watch what happens to tobacco revenues in the coming years. They’re going to fall off a cliff (they already have in New York and Michigan). Much of that will be due to the number of smokers who are growing their own tobacco. Much of it will be because people will go to the black market for cigarettes. One thing is certain: people will work harder and take certain risks to avoid paying new taxes. It’s true with tobacco, the same will be true with pot.
I haven't heard of many violent SWAT raids associated with alcohol regulation.
Producing alcohol on your own is too difficult to be a threat to government revenues. Hardly the case with marijuana. The first and only time I ever did it, with two seeds, no expertise and very little effort, I grew enough to last me more than a year.
Try that with whiskey.
I’ve never seen the pro-pot crowd so enthusiastic about being taxed. I feel like I’m in the twilight zone...
Aren't you one of the pro-pot crowd?
“Producing alcohol on your own is too difficult to be a threat to government revenues.”
It’s pretty simple to produce, actually, even at small-industrial scales. It’s the vicious relentless enforcement that makes it a pain.
Grow cannabis at the same scale, if it were “legal and taxed” and I imagine BATFEW would kick your doors down and drag you off, just like if you had a barrel a month still.
They’d be enthusiastically backed by the wholesale and retail cannabis industry.
I think I said it pretty clearly in the quote you provided. For me, it’s about free will, not marijuana advocacy.
I quit smoking the stuff for a reason. It has damaging long-term effects, both mental and physical. I learned that lesson the hard way. Other adults should be free to learn it, or not, as well.
Arguing for legalization on the basis of some magical revenue windfall for a bloated, inefficient and out-of-control government is the worst possible argument anyone with an interest in liberty could possibly make. It’s about letting adults make their own choices in life. That’s the only thing that matters.
One seed under one light with a couple of sheets of tin foil will produce about 1 1/2 ounces of marijuana, if done properly (and I did it properly on my first try with no help). That’s enough to last the average hard-core stoner about three months.
Tell me which spirit I can manufacture a three month supply of as easily, and how it’s done.
50 grams does not threaten the tax revenue. I think the conversation started there, being a threat to government revenues.
If a hundred thousand people growing pot threatened those revenues, then the government would crack down and start enforcing the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act or whatever it was called in the 1930’s. A person growing a pound or two would be seen as a threat and BATFEW would sniff you out like a pot of sour mash.
Distilling a liter or four of brandy does not threaten them either and it’s as easy as pouring wine (even cheap wine) into an old pressure cooker with a condenser attached. Distill it on the stove. If you use your own wine (like a batch that didn’t turn out well) it’s pretty economical too. Quicker than pot, no watering, and your legal exposure is much shorter.
And if you make your own wine, you have all the stuff you need to crack corn, mix with Klages malt and some sugar, and ferment into a smelly sour mash...or so I’m told.
Are you sure most pot used here comes from the US? Our government isn't so sure about that. Most estimates are that more than half comes from Mexico. They believe that in 2007 15,500 metric tons were produced in Mexico and most of it came here, and more was produced there in 2008, again with most of it coming here. There are parts of this country were mostly what you will find is domestic grown, but Mexican can be found most everywhere and throughout much of this country it completely dominates the market. They believe the total amount available on the market here in a year, foreign and domestic, is between 12,000 to 25,000 metric tons, and that Mexican pot could make up well over half of what is consumed here.
Besides, growing for personal use is undetectable and any laws against it would be unenforceable. If the governments aim is to tax the hell out of it to increase revenues, personal growing will become even more commonplace.”
Yet these medical marijuana dispensaries are doing huge business selling expensive pot to people who could legally grow their own. The government is already collecting at least $11 million in sales taxes from marijuana sales and believes the actual total could be a lot more because a lot of these dispensaries are reporting their income as proceeds from sales of other products because they don't want to admit marijuana sales on their federal tax returns. It's still illegal under federal law and only a small percentage of California's pot smokers have medical marijuana cards. If marijuana was actually legal under state and federal law corporate farmers would be growing it on huge farms and the costs would go way down. Tobacco costs less than $2 a pound in bulk wholesale to companies like Phillip Morris. Pot shouldn't be that much more expensive, certainly not hundreds or even thousands of dollars a pound. The only way the government will keep the cost to consumers anywhere close to what they pay today is with high taxes. There would be licensed shops all over selling it for reasonable prices and I bet a lot more people would go to the shops to by it just because it would be easier and they'd enjoy the variety they'd have to select from and would appreciate the fact that the product they are buying has been produced in a regulated environment and would not have toxic chemicals on it or dangerous molds or anything like that. There might be a lot of home growing, but I bet an awful lot would be sold through the shops too, even with high taxes. It's not that expensive today on a per use basis, and it could easily be cheaper in a legal environment even with high taxes.
That's after several months of taking care of your plant and will only happen for you if you are lucky enough to get a female plant from that seed and if the bugs don't get your plant and your buds don't get moldy and your light doesn't fall into your plant and you don't leave for a few days and neglect to water your plant, and so on.
You said an ounce and a half is enough to last a hardcore stoner about three months. That works out to slightly less than a half gram a day. In a legal environment a gram of good quality smoke could easily cost in the $5 to $10 dollar range, or less, even with really high taxes. That works out to about $2268 to $4536 a pound for a product that should only cost a few bucks a pound to produce. It's only going to cost in the neighborhood of $5 to $10 a gram if the taxes are really high. The hardcore stoner who averages a little less than a half gram of pot a day would spend a little less than $2.50 to $5 a day if he just bought his bought. That's not a lot of money. That's not enough for most to go to the trouble of growing their own, and prices like that would certainly not be high enough to warrant home growing from a lot of less than hardcore smokers who consume less than that. After big corporate producers and distributors get going and competition drives prices down taxes of a few dollars a gram would not be so unreasonable.
I think the federal government along with state and local governments could raise substantial tax revenues from sales taxes and excises on marijuana, and there will also be a lot of income taxes paid on money made by people working in the industry. These people would also pay property taxes on their real and personal property they purchase with their legal marijuana income and they'll pay sales taxes for goods and services they purchase with their income. There will be a lot of tax revenues.
I understand you don't like the tax angle, but taxes are a fact of life, and it's better for the government to generate tax revenues from the marijuana industry than for them to just blow billions of our money failing miserably at keeping up the ban on marijuana. I don't like taxes either, but when they legalize it they are going to tax it. They'll tax it to generate revenues and they'll tax it to keep the cost to consumers propped up so that marijuana doesn't get too much cheaper than it is today. This is just a given. Since we know they'd tax the crap out of it, there is nothing wrong with pointing out the fact that they will generate a lot of income that way, and save billions they are currently blowing to boot. This is after all our money we're talking about here. This is our money they are blowing, and we and our children are going to have to pay off all the debt they are incurring.
I agree that the government should let people make their own choices on something like this but the economic arguments are also valid, as is the argument that legalizing marijuana would seriously damage Mexican organized crime and that legalizing it would lessen the rift between a large portion of our population and law enforcement and would alleviate some of the erosion of respect for the rule of law in general that having a law that is commonly broken and has in fact been broken by more than 100 million Americans causes. The ban on marijuana does not work. It's already cheaper than beer on a per use basis in most cases. It's incredibly easily available everywhere in this country despite the ban. We are accomplishing nothing good keeping it illegal. To the contrary, we are actually causing a lot more harm than good with our laws. There are a lot of good valid reasons for making it legal and the economic reasons are certainly part of that.
The ability to produce your own supply with no exposure is an inherent threat to the government’s revenues. If they can’t detect it, they can’t stop it. You say the BATF will sniff you out if you’re growing pounds... the whole point is that you don’t have to grow pounds. If you’re only growing for yourself, 50 grams every four months is all you’ll need.
It’s not one man growing 50 grams, it’s everyone who doesn’t want to pay twice as much for their weed growing 50 grams. If the government is getting into the pot-dealing business strictly for the money, as is (inexplicably) being advocated around here, of course the taxes are going to be massive. We’re talking about leftists here. That’s what they do, they can’t help themselves. And in this case, the public — the overwhelmingly majority of whom don’t touch the stuff — will not only support it, they’ll demand it. The same can’t be said for alcohol, which is consumed on some level by the majority of American adults. There’s no mandate to tax it into submission, therefore the need to produce your own supply is non-existent. It’s mostly done for hobby anymore.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Watch what happens with tobacco in the next year, after the April 1 tax hike. Tax revenues are going to plunge as home tobacco growing explodes (it’s already happening). And it’s much easier to grow long term supplies of pot than it is to grow tobacco (because people use tobacco in much larger quantities).
You signed up today to post this, which suggests you’re part of the pot lobby, probably NORML. These are the same talking points, using the same language, that another new sign-up from the pot lobby threw around a few weeks ago... feel free to check my posting history to see my responses.
I’m not going to respond to these same talking points endlessly just because you guys think inundating message boards with them is an effective strategy. Sorry, I don’t do this for a living, so I don’t have that kind of time to piss away.
But I will tell you, as I told the last NORML lobbyist, that in all my years of smoking pot and living in Southern California (and knowing LOTS of other stoners), I saw product from the dispensaries maybe twice. I don’t know anyone who buys their pot from them, mainly because they’re ridiculously expensive. Everybody I knew, in both Los Angeles and San Diego, got their stuff from home growers with grow cards. And the stuff was every bit as potent as the stuff we’d sampled from the dispensaries (which sells for $400 an ounce, minimum).
As far as it being cheaper, even with high taxes, that’s a pipe dream. Anyone who think this government getting into the pot-dealing business expressly for the money is going to make pot cheaper is either being willfully dishonest, or they’re living in a dream world. They’ll have a mandate from the non-pot smoking majority to tax the hell out of it and that’s exactly what they’re going to do. The cost will double, instantly. Guaranteed.
I'm also not new here. I'm TKDietz. I signed up here first in December of 2003. I killed that account by cutting and pasting in a random password I didn't know and signing off. The email account associated with that account was dead so there was no coming back as TKDietz. I was planning on never coming back because I was wasting too much time here, but in a momentary lapse in willpower I signed up again to respond to a couple of posts.
"As far as it being cheaper, even with high taxes, thats a pipe dream. Anyone who think this government getting into the pot-dealing business expressly for the money is going to make pot cheaper is either being willfully dishonest, or theyre living in a dream world. Theyll have a mandate from the non-pot smoking majority to tax the hell out of it and thats exactly what theyre going to do. The cost will double, instantly. Guaranteed."
I'm not suggesting the government get involved in the pot dealing business, except to regulate it. Private companies should produce and distribute marijuana. It ought to be regulated similar to the way we regulate alcohol. There will be regulatory costs and taxes, but the cost of marijuana should still drop. It only costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars a pound because it is illegal. You said yourself it's easy to grow. Corporate farmers will mass produce this stuff. They'll bring production costs down to next to nothing, and all the costs associated with it being illegal will go away. It really shouldn't cost that much more than tobacco in bulk wholesale purchases, certainly not hundreds or even thousands of times as much. Companies like Phillip Morris pay about $1.75 a pound for that dried and cured Burley they use to make up the bulk of most cigarettes. Most tobacco is under $2 a pound in bulk wholesale purchases. Pot should cost that much more. Even high quality product grown in greenhouses should even cost hundreds of dollars a pound because they'll grow it in row after row of greenhouses on several acres of land like they do hothouse tomatoes. There will be all sorts of room for taxes.
It is possible that the government would tax it so much that they would increase the price of pot such that consumers pay more than they do today. That would be a stupid thing to do. They ought to start out pretty low because the drastic decreases in pot prices won't happen overnight. There will be all sorts of start up costs for the companies that get involved. It will take them a while to get their systems dialed in. Prices should go down a fair amount pretty quickly because all the risks associated with it being illegal would go away. The government wouldn't be seizing millions of their pot plants and thousands of tons of their finished product. They won't have to pay people a fortune because they are risking prison. They won't have to go through so many middlemen. But it will still take a few years for the industry to become highly competitive and for prices to drop way down.
If it were up to me we'd start out with plain sales taxes, and then start slowly adding in excises. If they do go too crazy with taxes up front and end up with product that is more expensive for consumers than what is available today they won't put much of a dent in the black market. That would be a horrible mistake. It would be better if the legal product started out a fair amount cheaper than current prices for illicit product so they could kill the black market early on. Then they could slowly raise taxes.
Where I said, “Even high quality product grown in greenhouses should even cost hundreds of dollars a pound,” I meant to say “shouldn’t cost hundreds of dollars a pound.”
First are you sure you want to use Government estimates on ANYTHING, especially with something they are involved in? they have a vested interest in staying on the "war on drugs" path so of course they want you to believe most of the stuff comes across the border.
But it has been known for many years that most pot is grown and consumed within our borders. even though we have been at this 'war on drugs" for many years they haven't even nicked the cultivation within our own borders much less outside the country!
That is why the "WOD" is such as waste of money and manpower at the expense of your freedom... 30+ years and they haven't made a dent!
Second do a basic web search and you'll get your answer... but here is one of many articles...
You're in Texas where people can drive to some place like Houston and buy a couple of hundred pounds of Mexican for $300 a pound or so. I bet that most all pot sold in Texas is Mexican too. It's just so cheap and so abundant. When you read about these large busts of a ton or more in a tractor trailer or in a stash house somewhere, it's almost always going to be Mexican pot unless the bust occurs near the Canadian border, and Canadians smuggle in a whole lot less than the Mexicans. In my area we rarely see cases involving pounds of high grade American grown pot, but we see cases involving many many pounds of Mexican all the time. The indoor grown stuff is grown on such a small small scale and really isn't used by that many people because it's so expensive. If you're in Northern California where the market is flooded with domestically grown pot that's relatively cheap it's a different story. In the Northeast Mexican is a lot more expensive because it has had to be transported farther and has likely changed hands more times, so there isn't such a disparity in price and a lot more people will pay a little more for better pot rather than buy “shwag,” but throughout much of America Mexican pot completely dominates the market and market share for the Mexicans has been growing as they grow their networks and are able to severely undercut domestic prices in more and more areas.
American grown pot tends to be a much better quality product than Mexican pot. It's stronger and usually looks and smells and tastes better. If you look at average potency of seized marijuana what you see is that the overall average of pot tends to be a lot closer to what they call “commercial grade” than to what they call “sinsemilla.” The commercial grade pot is mostly all Mexican pot. It's going to be in the 5 to 7% THC range generally, compared to indoor grown American pot which is fairly often going to be 20% or higher. Average sinsemilla potency is up there in the low teens. Most all American grown pot is sinsemilla. The average potency of all seized marijuana, commercial grade and sinsemilla, is around 8% now. The Mexican stuff has been increasing in potency over the years according to the Marijuana Potency Monitoring Project, the folks at the University of Mississippi who do all the potency tests on seized marijuana for the government, but it's still much weaker than typical American grown product. They go for quantity rather than quality. They grow it in large fields, don't worry much about removing male plants to cut down on the seediness, and they compress it it to shrink it down to make it easier to hide and transport and to maintain freshness of their product which will often sit for months and months or longer in some hot storage facility before it is ever distributed. Americans don't do this because they don't so this because it seriously diminishes the value of their product, makes it look like Mexican. If American grown product was the dominant product on the market the average potency of all seized marijuana would be higher. The overall average wouldn't be just above the average potency of commercial grade marijuana.