For a couple of years, I labored (literally) under the impression that proposals to legalize marijuana might need high revenue to pass. I got that impression from the repeal of alcohol Prohibition, where “revenue considerations, when joined to the desire to eradicate the evils that grew out of prohibition, . . . gave the repeal movement its powerful motive force, leading finally, on December 5, 1933, to the abandonment of the dry law.”
Well, in November balloting on marijuana legalization, voters in Washington faced a relatively strong tax scheme; voters in Colorado, a relatively weak one. Both proposals passed with strong majorities; the majority in Washington, 55.44 percent, was only marginally higher than that in Colorado, 54.83 percent. In press coverage, the level of taxation was pretty much a nonissue.
Meanwhile, in Oregon, a legalization proposal with a nonsensical revenue plan (putting a state monopoly in the hands of marijuana producers) got some 44 percent approval.
Issues other than taxes drove those results. So the tax card is no ace in the hole. I was wrong.
More to come . . .
 “Laws To Tax Marijuana,” 59 State Tax Notes 251-280 (January 24, 2011), online at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1741735 and https://newtax.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/20-may-2011-taxing-marijuana4.pdf.
 Tun Yuan Hu, The Liquor Tax in the United States, 1791-1947: A History of the Internal Revenue Taxes Imposed on Distilled Spirits by the Federal Government 63 (New York: Columbia University, Graduate School of Business 1950).
 “Gangs, Ganjapreneurs, or Government: Marijuana Revenue up for Grabs,” 66 State Tax Notes 255-269 (October 22, 2012), online at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2165864 and https://newtax.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/gangs-ganjapreneurs-or-government-marijuana-revenue-up-for-grabs.pdf