Speaking at Brown in RI

November 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’m to be on a panel on marijuana legalization at Brown University in Providence on November 18: https://www.facebook.com/events/1477664202522909/.


Trusting Marijuana Sellers

October 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

This blog is very skeptical of the ability to measure THC accurately enough to tax it.  Here is an argument that testing is accurate enough: “Skeptics say it is too difficult to measure THC, but that’s not very convincing when High Times magazine offers the same kind of product specs you’d find in an issue of Stereophile or Car and Driver Magazine.”

But even claims of horsepower have been found inaccurate. And nobody taxes horsepower. The sampling of bud leaves the door open to manipulation and abuse – by taxpayers or government.

Accuracy for taxation is not the same as accuracy for journalism — or advertising.  And if the incentive shifts to make low THC claims profitable, I would not count on taking those low claims to the bank, either.  That’s where I look to a stated THC tax as an option, as suggested by Beau Kilmer and David Ball, described here at page 541 note 17.  Remember what happened to statements of tar and nicotine content on cigarette packs:  they are not there any more.


Forbes attacks marijuana taxation

October 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

Lots to argue with in a Forbes article here  that attacks marijuana taxation:

1. “It’s a basic principle of sound tax policy that the code should not pick winners and losers or disproportionately target certain industries or groups of taxpayers.” There’s a grain of truth there, but pushed to this extreme, it leads to taxing whiskey like wheat, and marijuana like milk.

2. “Because marijuana can be purchased as a cigarette, an edible, a liquid, or vapor, all with a wide variety of concentrations, a specific excise tax is untenable.” That’s a complete red herring. No one else suggests taxing weight or potency at the product level. That would be like taxing rum punch like vodka shots. Just as you tax the rum in rum punch, not the punch product, you would tax the marijuana that goes into edibles and so on, not the final product.

3. “There is no reason why the tax code should deny ordinary and necessary business expenses to legitimate businesses established under state law.” Well, you might think advertising and marketing of marijuana might be (a) unwelcome on policy grounds and (b) protected under some reading of free speech. Denying deductions for those expenses might be the best you can do. More here.


Here’s what low, unindexed taxes do

October 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Photo on 10-19-14 at 9.09 AM #2

We Are Better Than This — Kleinbard

October 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

Ed Kleinbard’s book starts with a free-market slant (much of the following is paraphrased):

 Private enterprise ≈ path to greater national wealth and is conducive to the preservation of personal liberties.

And doesn’t oppose regressive taxes:

 Surprisingly, the progressivity of tax rates is negatively correlated with the reduction in inequality a country achieves.

But moves on to blast anti-tax hysteria: « Read the rest of this entry »

Rose Habib on the Bud-Trim Line

September 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

Rosemary Habib is the author, along with Reuben Finighan and Steven Davenport, of “Testing for Psychoactive Agents,” BOTEC Analysis Corp., http://liq.wa.gov/publications/Marijuana/BOTEC%20reports/1c-Testing-for-Psychoactive-Agents-Final.pdf (Aug. 24, 2013), which seems to me by far the leading analysis of that topic done to date. She graciously agreed to let me print her thoughts about the bud-trim line for a marijuana tax.

My question:  

Updating http://newrevenue.org/2014/05/12/can-the-bud-trim-line-hold/:  Let’s say there’s a huge tax on bud and a small tax on trim.  Would that give producers an incentive to cheat – to shift bud, at the margin, just a little, into the trim category and then use it to make concentrates?

Might not a tax-evader deliberately characterize bud as trim to boost the THC content – and thus value – of concentrates?  That evasion depends on the purchaser believing that he is getting a better, more valuable product — edible, vaporizer cartridge, or whatever.  And that belief would need to come from THC labeling (however inaccurate) or some other claim or experience or report.

Rose Habib’s response:

My first impression is, yes it could be more economical to move lesser buds over into the trim pile.  A lot of that depends on the market.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Official CO document freezing average market rate

September 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

This document freezes producer marijuana taxes through the end of 2014: Average market rate late 2014.


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