Tax marijuana like milk?

Backing up posts manually, I came across one from May 30, 2010: “Free choice to use tobacco and alcohol — Tax free!”

Tax cannabis like corn flakes? Here, from the Raleigh newspaper, is a pure expression of that view. Taxes that “should be abolished” include “all differential excise taxes on tobacco, alcohol and entertainment.”  The link has expired, so my old blog post is the only place I can find it. This is a point of view I disagree with, but I can’t prove it wrong. It prevails or loses, depending on who has the votes. Continue reading “Tax marijuana like milk?”


Copy this website with attribution

Please feel free to download and and save and repost anything on this website,, with attribution.  Godaddy gave me a scare, indicating that this website would disappear on June 24 unless I engaged in some computer work that’s beyond me.  I think I’ve dodged that bullet, but general principles call for saving content routinely.  That, too, involving “file transfer protocol,” is beyond me.   When I lose the rest of my marbles, this website will soon vanish.  For what it’s worth.

Unplowed ground

I was talking about the California Blue Ribbon Commission and the taxation of cannabis with an elected official in North Carolina, one who spends a lot of time saying the same thing over and over.  (A lot of this time involves battling the other side of the political spectrum.)  This official expressed some envy about tackling something new — about questions we don’t have answers for.

It would be very useful to index the taxes on alcohol and fuels (gasoline, jet fuel) for inflation.  To me, that’s an obvious reform.  But if I were to take up that reform as an issue, I would have to say the same thing over and over again:  Index these taxes.  Even though I make plenty of mistakes, it’s more fun to work on unplowed ground.


WA Credit union accepts cannabis growers

This was news to me before the ACLU of WA-WOLA trip to Spokane, which educated me about this practice, already described in an article from September 2014:

“Unlike many banks worried about the drug’s federally illegal status, Spokane’s Numerica Credit Union has offered accounts to marijuana growers and processors (retailers are not allowed). Numerica wouldn’t confirm the number of accounts it’s opened or the amount of its application or monthly fees, though a spokesperson said special fees were necessary for the ‘initial and ongoing due diligence’ on the accounts. Growers and retailers tell the Inlander the application fee alone is $1,000.”

The rationale I heard for “no-retailers” is Continue reading “WA Credit union accepts cannabis growers”

Early Lessons for Future Pot Laws — Chris Law

Chris Law just finished law school in DC and is studying for the California Bar.  I read an early version of this paper and thought it was super.  Pdf is easier to read: Legalized Recreational Marijuana and the Black-Market Challenge.  (Thanks, Chris.)  Here are four key recommendations:

1.  States Should Avoid Price-Based Taxes Adopted by Colorado and Washington Because of the Potential for a Price Collapse;    2. Recreational Marijuana Taxes Should Start Low and Gradually Increase as the Market Matures;  3.  States Should Structure Taxes to Help Businesses Make Deductions on Federal Taxes;  4.  States Should Implement Policies to Reduce Competition Between Recreational and Medical Marijuana Markets.


Legalized Recreational Marijuana and the Black-Market Challenge: Early Lessons for Future Pot Laws


Christopher Law Continue reading “Early Lessons for Future Pot Laws — Chris Law”

Flexible taxes in Uruguay

Julio Calzada, drug czar of Uruguay:  “We had begun working with a low tax; now we have a flexible tax, which will be able to move. Our law allows for that, and at least our low tax – that’s what allows us to compete with the black market. Eventually as the legal market develops and grows we could raise taxes.”  here or at at the 40’24” mark

UPDATE:  Bryce Pardo says that rates have not been set yet.  So I guess this statement indicates intention rather than fact.  If you listen to the Spanish, Impuestos = taxes.

Tax large buyers

Regular and heavy users of cannabis are at risk of overdoing it, as the RAND Report for Vermont points out. How might cannabis businesses attempt to target them?

Some options include bulk pricing, customer rewards, sales promotions, and loyalty discounts, like buy 10 and then get one at cost (which we saw in Spokane with the ACLU-WOLA group), or buy 10 and get one for free.

Still, a standard bulk discount is hard to argue with. For instance, if you buy a gallon of milk, you pay less per ounce than if you buy 8 pints.  But taxing by weight, rather than by price, takes away some of the benefit of the bulk discount to the heavy user. Continue reading “Tax large buyers”

Cannabis info assembled

The ACLU of Washington State and the Washington (D.C.) Office on Latin America have assembled a fantastic set of reference materials on evaluation of cannabis legalization policies.  Click here or go to, which leads to a reference materials and a five-page reading list.

The reading list is reachable directly here or at

ITEP on medical loophole

ITEP report — if medical cannabis gets a tax break:  “If the standard for doctors recommending marijuana in a given state is not restrictive, then a huge part of the recreational marijuana tax base could disappear as individuals are incentivized to falsely claim a medical need to get the discount.”  Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 2015,  ITEP is described by the right-wing Carolina Journal as a “left-wing research institution.”

Means testing for the tax break would reduce the problem, but not solve it.  Another option is to tax everyone equally and let the spending side of government, like a Public Health agency, take care of needy patients.

Lampach statement on testing

Here is the statement of David Lampach, CEO of Steep Hill, to the California Blue Ribbon Commission on marijuana legalization.

A key sentence from his statement is:

From my experience, the foundation of a well regulated and consumer oriented cannabis marketplace must include these three principles:  “individual responsibility”, “transparency”, and “accountability”.

Full statement pasted below.  More legible pdf is at DLBlueRibbonCommTestimony6-3-15. Continue reading “Lampach statement on testing”

BRC in Fresno

Video has disappeared from the internet. Sorry! Here’s a link to just the introduction, without my tax talk.

Here is the video (the one at the bottom). For the tax part, I come in a little after the 28’30” minute mark. Rob MacCoun of Stanford Law is about 5 minutes before me. Q&A after I finish.  Lieutenant Governor Newsom does a good job throughout, I would say.  The answer part of the brief Q&A on the tax part starts at about 36’44”.  There’s more Q&A at 1’04″30. Continue reading “BRC in Fresno”

County tax irritates cities

Allen St. Pierre, head of NORML, writes:

Perversely, this is too cool!

State vs. Counties vs. Municipalities…over taxing legal cannabis commerce.

As predicted many moons ago, once government goes from wasting taxpayer dollars propagandizing against cannabis to scrambling to ‘get their fair share’ of taxes derived from cannabis commerce, public advocates’ reform efforts will be largely half completed! Continue reading “County tax irritates cities”

An analyst, not an advocate

I try to be a student of taxes, and have been studying taxes on cannabis.  I post material that I think relevant to taxation of cannabis, and what do you know?  Just about everything I come across that looks into the technicalities of that field comes from supporters of legalization.  Opponents of legalization aren’t paying attention to those technicalities, I suppose.  They are stuck in Just Say No mode, maybe.  I don’t think that will work out very well for them.

Next up, a posting from Allen St. Pierre.

Gieringer on taxing production in CA for 2016

Dr. Dale Gieringer, the Director of Cal NORML, has given me permission to post his written testimony about how cannabis production should be taxed in connection with a possible 2016 ballot initiative in that state.  I do not necessarily agree with what he writes, but his testimony advances the discussion.

I’ve pasted the first page or so, but footnotes and page numbers make complete pasting impractical.  A legible version of the whole thing is at TaxingMJinCal-DG-LtGovBRC.


For the Lt Gov’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana

By Dale Gieringer, Ph.D

Director, Cal NORML –

RATIONALE FOR TAXATION. As California moves towards legalizing

marijuana, taxation of the industry is warranted on several grounds.

(1) To compensate for external social and health costs Continue reading “Gieringer on taxing production in CA for 2016”