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Pot Tax on Oaksterdam
July 22, 2009 1:29 AM   Subscribe

Oakland California passes landmark marijuana tax cnn video

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posted by hortense (33 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Better to tax the dispensaries than the actual herb itself. I am glad this passed, if it works out for the cities a statewide tax may follow.
posted by hortense at 1:39 AM on July 22, 2009


Republicans are going to shit their pants over this. On the one hand, weed is the demon-plant. On the other hand, taxes are inherently evil.

....head.....asplode.....
posted by Avenger at 1:40 AM on July 22, 2009


Presstv? The Iranian state owned media? I realize it's probably not that relevant to the news story, but man.

In other news: Iranian to monitor cyberspace to fight offenses. Totally just about stopping cybercrime, of course. Nothing to see here.
posted by delmoi at 1:43 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also it's interesting to see that the dispensary owner actually lobbied for his taxes to be raised. Not just raised, in fact, but raised to the tune of $350,000 per year. I don't think the Drug Warriors get that people are willing to pay for legal protection and legitimacy, and pay handsomely.
posted by Avenger at 1:47 AM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't think the Drug Warriors get that people are willing to pay for legal protection and legitimacy

Trust me, they get it. It's what they're afraid of.
posted by napkin at 1:59 AM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


ha ha, mr president...looks like we can 'grow the economy'
posted by sexyrobot at 2:19 AM on July 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Looks like I'm gonna win that bet.
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:22 AM on July 22, 2009


So, does anyone think this will spread out to the rest of the USA in any kind of sustainable way? I'm thinking all it will take is a change in federal government to more aggressive/stupid drug policy for the whole operation in California to be shut down, but at the same time it seems like there should be some tipping point where that will be impossible and acceptance of cannabis, medical or otherwise, will become more widespread. I don't know, I'd definitely like to see a massive overhaul in drug policy but the ~war on drugs~ is so entrenched that I'm very skeptical.
posted by palidor at 2:24 AM on July 22, 2009


I'm thinking all it will take is a change in federal government to more aggressive/stupid drug policy for the whole operation in California to be shut down

Fortunately, this falls under the purview of the DEA, who take their cues from the President. Congress could enact something crazy that would outlaw a tax on medical marijuana, but they wouldn't for many reasons, not least of all because it'd be a clusterfuck that would almost legitimize medical marijuana, which is still technically "illegal" by federal law.

I say fortunately because there's already been a significant change in the climate with regards to DEA enforcement and dealings with medical marijuana in states that have voted to allow it.

I've never particularly understood the concept of outlawing what I put inside my own body, but, then, the *consumption* of the drug isn't itself illegal (typically) but rather the possession.

I hope we begin to see good things coming with this, and that we perhaps consider saving ourselves a large chunk of money by no longer imprisoning people who had a bit of weed on them, further damning away their chances to become (or remain) productive members of society.

(Disclosure: Have tried pot. Don't actively smoke pot or use any drugs at all, because it's just not my thing. Got into a very large argument with the girlfriend over the fact that legalizing pot and other drugs would not turn the world into a crazy-insane-headfuck-dome, any more than people with access to battery acid and compressed air have taken to it and destroyed themselves. With just a bit of education, people are shockingly able to make decisions and weigh risks in their own interest in these matters reasonably well. Further, I just can't imagine there is a large contingent of individuals who are sitting at home watching Jeopardy, rocking back and forth, wishing they could shoot up with heroine, and oh-how-they-would, if only it were legal!)
posted by disillusioned at 2:50 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, does anyone think this will spread out to the rest of the USA in any kind of sustainable way?

At the present time, I'd say no.

The US has alot of entrenched regionalism. Look at any Electoral College map for the past 50 years or so. Decriminalized marijuana probably isn't going to fly in Red States. Even if it does take off in Blue States, it can (and will) be portrayed as "Evil Fake America forcing their corrupt morals on the rest of us!" (even if the marijuana is being grown, sold and smoked entirely within blue states)-- see the current gay-marriage silliness for a good example.

In other words, the Red States will always have a huge say in the Fed Gov, and the Fed Gov will always have a huge say in drug policy. So don't bet on it.
posted by Avenger at 2:52 AM on July 22, 2009


I've had the same debates about drug legalization, and the basic idea is that everyone who wants to smoke pot or use any number of drugs is already doing so, and while there might be a tiny percentage of people for whom legalization would lift the stigma entirely, it's an insignificant number. Raving reefer zombies won't be roaming the streets engaged in warfare with all the new smack maniacs and crazy cokesters. And eliminating the power of the black market will actually decrease violence, etc. etc. There are so many arguments against prohibition, but there's so much money flowing through the entrenched interests. And that beats any well-reasoned argument.

I find the red state / blue state divide to be very interesting because of what it means for the future. If decriminalization really takes in some blue states, and the cultural divide between the coasts and the south/midwest/west (to generalize, of course) becomes even greater, what is the role of the federal government? At what point do the divisions become dangerous? It's a lot bigger than drug policy, of course, but it's hard for me to imagine a well-unified country in 30-50 years if the federal government doesn't ultimately step in and disregard some states' rights (either in support of or against any number of policies in addition to decriminalization). But I'm not well researched here, I guess.
posted by palidor at 3:37 AM on July 22, 2009


So, does anyone think this will spread out to the rest of the USA in any kind of sustainable way?

At the present time, I'd say no.


I'd have to agree. It seems reasonable that states with medical marijuana laws would be the most likely to follow CA's lead. As of 2008, thirteen states have legalized medical marijuana use: AK, CA, CO, HI, ME, MI, MT, NV, NM, OR, RI, VT, and WA.

For the rest of the states? Well, having lived in Georgia for way too long, I'd have to say (in the vernacular, as it were) that it'll be a cold day in hell before the good men and women of this state's legislature condemn their citizens to the corrupting influence of drugs, even under the guise of medicinal use. I suspect that goes for most of the rest of the states south of Virginia and east of Texas, too.
posted by elfgirl at 3:44 AM on July 22, 2009


To be clearer: Is drug policy too contentious and complicated to leave up to the states? Because that seems to be the direction the federal government is headed in with regard to medical marijuana. Going from there, confrontation seems inevitable. Will we have the Roe v. Wade of medical marijuana? Stoners v. South?
posted by palidor at 3:47 AM on July 22, 2009


It's a lot bigger than drug policy, of course, but it's hard for me to imagine a well-unified country in 30-50 years if the federal government doesn't ultimately step in and disregard some states' rights (either in support of or against any number of policies in addition to decriminalization).

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has already gently broached the subject of secession.
posted by Avenger at 4:12 AM on July 22, 2009


I wonder about what will ultimately happen in states like MA who have chosen the decriminalization route. I've read that there is a bill in the state legislature to fully legalize and start taxing, but in MA, one must remember that any private citizen can submit a bill for consideration, so it may not be representative of any real support.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:21 AM on July 22, 2009


If you grow it, they will come.
posted by jamstigator at 5:45 AM on July 22, 2009


This is old hat. Several states already tax marijuana. (Of course, possession is still illegal, so the tax only serves as a way to tack tax evasion onto the other charges.)
posted by jedicus at 6:03 AM on July 22, 2009


Actually, if this works in Oakland, I could see it being considered in Rhode Island in the next few years - medical marijuana dispensaries just passed overwhelmingly, decriminalization is being discussed, the economy is shit, the city and state both have astronomical deficits... But maybe that's just optimism.
posted by lunit at 6:11 AM on July 22, 2009


Does anybody know where the almost standard rate of $3.50 / gram tax in jedicus link comes from?
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:17 AM on July 22, 2009


Interesting, but insignificant compared to a hopefully coming state tax.
posted by caddis at 6:36 AM on July 22, 2009


Isn't the state tax in CA predicated on Federal decriminalization (or maybe full on legalization, I forget)?
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:01 AM on July 22, 2009


it was deleted -- but might come back (pls someone repost?) -- i'm interested in the parallels with prostitution...
posted by kliuless at 7:11 AM on July 22, 2009


Isn't the state tax in CA predicated on Federal decriminalization (or maybe full on legalization, I forget)?

Tom Ammiano, the state rep that proposed the state tax wants to remove the Federal requirement from the proposal.
posted by jedicus at 7:13 AM on July 22, 2009


I've had the same debates about drug legalization, and the basic idea is that everyone who wants to smoke pot or use any number of drugs is already doing so, and while there might be a tiny percentage of people for whom legalization would lift the stigma entirely, it's an insignificant number.

Do you have numbers on this? Whenever the topic comes up among my friends, there's usually a large contingent who enjoyed smoking in the past, don't now because they have jobs that involve testing and/or just plain don't like doing illegal things, and so haven't smoked in years and decline when offered - but would happily toke up every so often if it were legal and (even more) easy to get hold of.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:46 AM on July 22, 2009


In January in 2008, I moved to Oakland for a new job after living all of my life on the east coast. For the first two weeks or so at my job, one of my coworkers would come and ask a woman that I shared an office with if she wanted to go to The Pot Shop. They would leave, then return 15 minutes later with coffee. I kept thinking "Man, they must have coffee bars in the Pottery Barns out here. Must be some weird west coast thing."

2 weeks into my gig, I decided to go with them. We walked down the block and into what I immediately realized was not a pottery barn at all, but a marijuana dispensery. That was the day that I learned all about Oakland's lax drug laws, and that the name of the neighborhood I worked in was called "Oaksterdam."

I kept going there for coffee because it was close and cheap. The service occasionally left something to be desired, but that didn't bug me so much. However, it bothered one of my coworkers, though. One day on the way back to work he was going on about them, looking at me and saying, "seriously, how the hell do they make money?"

I stared at him for a few seconds.

"Oh, right."
posted by MidAtlantic at 7:50 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't have any numbers, so it's really just a guess and I could be completely wrong, but I think the idea that legalization would result in social chaos is misguided. Your friends who are drug tested sound pretty responsible, and if drug testing was eliminated I imagine they'd continue to be responsible whether they started smoking pot or not. On the other hand, I think someone with a less disciplined personality wouldn't need the help of drug legalization to have an antisocial effect. Again, no numbers, but I think individual personalities determine how people contribute to the world around them, and drug use or abuse is simply a consequence of personality, it doesn't determine behavior.
posted by palidor at 8:03 AM on July 22, 2009


On July 12 CBS Sunday Morning's Cover Story was High Stakes: A Call to Legalize Marijuana -- "California Desperately Needs Tax Revenue, Prompting Some to See Green in Making Grass Legal."
posted by ericb at 8:32 AM on July 22, 2009


Cool! Can we also start taxing or charging fees for oil drilling in California? There might be a little money to be made in that, too...
posted by yeloson at 8:50 AM on July 22, 2009


yeloson: No. (Santa Barbara, 1969)
posted by rtha at 9:40 AM on July 22, 2009


Santa Barbara, 1969.

Can't we put that little accident behind us, and move on?
posted by Midnight Skulker at 11:33 AM on July 22, 2009


Of course the dispensary owner wants to lobby for his taxes to be raised. That's gonna keep the DEA agent parked across the street from getting in his business. Protection money... gotta love it.
posted by msergott at 4:00 PM on July 22, 2009


Drug Czar states "No Medical Use For Marijuana"
posted by homunculus at 6:40 PM on July 24, 2009


I guess if you're a drug czar, you're okay with lying a lot. And we all know how well things turn out when you lie to people about OMG DRUGS BAD.
posted by rtha at 9:13 PM on July 24, 2009


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