Thursday, May 7, 2009

Schwarzenegger Looks to Illegal Drugs for Tax Revenue

The California budget crisis continues on without abatement and illegal drugs are now in the crosshairs of cash strapped legislators. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he would look at marijuana legislation as a potential means for tax revenue. Is this a shortsighted move?

Illegal Drugs in the News

When Michael Phelps took a bong hit, the picture led to unsuccessful press negotiations, an apology, sanctions, and a loss of endorsements. In contrast, when San Francisco Democrat Tom Ammiano drafted a California marijuana bill, he was hailed as a visionary who might be able to use illegal drugs and put up to $50 per ounce of marijuana into the state's coffers.

Even President Obama weighed in on legalization of illegal drugs - specifically the legalization of marijuana - and the Obama marijuana position is a resounding "no" to making this illegal drug legal. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is not yet on the illegal drugs legalization bandwagon, but, according to the Christian Science Monitor, he is making overtures that he is ready to listen and discuss the legalization and taxation of marijuana.

Illegal Drugs Status of Marijuana

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration classifies marijuana as a schedule one illegal drug, asserting that it possessed a heightened possibility of abuse.

Will Legalization of Illegal Drugs Show California the Money?

It may not be the solution to California's budget woes, but it would be more than a drop in the bucket. Estimates suggest that the legalization of marijuana and its taxation could add up to $1.3 billion to the state's strapped budget.

The law of unintended consequences also applies when it comes to illegal drugs and their legalization. For example, if marijuana were made legal in California, sellers and users would no longer be subject to prosecution (at taxpayer cost) and incarceration (also at taxpayer expense); moreover, the tax revenue generated by marijuana sellers and users as they pursue their regular FICA generating jobs remains preserved.

On the flipside, a new government agency or at least office dedicated to overseeing the sale and taxation of marijuana would have to be created. Children would have to be protected from (for them) illegal drugs that would then be so much easier to obtain. Could it be that the California governmental structure might just eat up whatever profits the legalization and taxation of marijuana would yield?

Moreover, the fact that smoking pot and smoking tobacco lead to health problems is undisputed. Will California simply shoot itself in the foot by legalizing marijuana and reaping tax benefits on the front end, while paying out health related costs on the back end?

3 comments:

MelissaQ said...

WOW! Unbelievable. I wonder if Arnold S, is just trying to keep his home in the Governors mansion?

vrtulobjeq said...

Recent reports from the Netherlands indicates that about 10% of the population now use pot. After the Netherlands made it obtainable in the form of cookies 30% of the population used it. You may have read recently that Portugal has made it legal. They simply weighed up the costs and found that legalizing its use made more economic and social sense ie that the drug enforcement cost was tipping their budget further into the red.

Legalizing it would zap the drug lords in a significant way plus you could probably empty half you prison populations.

There maybe some value in the CNN story for you:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/05/18/government.marijuana.garden/index.html?eref=rss_latest

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