News came out this morning that Oakland is going to start taxing medical marijuana. It will be the first city in the US to do so after garnering 80% of the vote. I found it interesting that there was almost no formal opposition to this. Oakland's City Council was fine with it. They get money. The business owners were fine with it. They viewed it as a start to legalization of marijuana. Perhaps more important, they view it as legitimizing their business in eyes of the public..
I'm of mixed opinion here. It seems wrong to tax some kind of medically approved substance and not another. Is there anyone looking for a special tax on Lipitor? Maybe that's different since it's patented and Pfizer pays it's fair share of taxes.
On the other hand, California's budget needs a fix. I've been making a big deal out of this for three reasons:
- I live in California. It hits close to home.
- California's economy is said to be the world's 8th largest (if you were to consider it a separate country). I haven't verified this fact, but it sounds reasonable.
- Some say that what California is going through is a harbinger of what the US government might go through before too long. I'm not sure whether I believe that or not.
I was telling my wife about the budget simulator at that aforementioned link and how the state budget is a big game of "Would You Rather" - with almost all choices being very unappealing. She came up with one idea that seems be more and more popular in the area. Legalize pot... then tax the [excrement] out of it. Now is a appropriate time to say that neither my wife nor I have ever tried pot. (Cheap, domestic, light beer with splurges of Tanqueray Ten works for me. The wife is more of a wine fan.)
Legalizing pot would have two financial benefits. One, the obvious inflow of cash from the tax. Two, law enforcement would be relieved of policing it - a budget savings. The problems would be in what side effects our society would see. I'm not an expert on that, but it seems as if we could look at societies that already have legalized pot - places like Amsterdam.
What's your take? Is it a fix or just going to bring a pile of new problems?
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