Tax rules for campaigns — Soltani

For many of us tax policy people who have seen tax laws made, campaign finance reform is a sore spot, since special interests donate to politicians and get favorable tax rules.

My friend Abdi Soltani, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, whom I met when we were on the California Blue Ribbon Commission on marijuana legalization, has been thinking about campaign finance reform. He has an article, worth reading in its entirety, containing six ways to use tax rules to address the campaign finance problem.  Here are excerpts: Continue reading “Tax rules for campaigns — Soltani”


3.5% tax yields $8 per person

I’m looking at how California localities might tax cannabis – both medical and eventual adult use – in connection with a panel appearance coming up.

How much might they collect?

In 2014, the City of Denver collected about $8 per man, woman, and child from its 3.5 percent tax on recreational marijuana.

Here’s how I get that number. Continue reading “3.5% tax yields $8 per person”

RICO attacks on private marijuana sellers

Thanks to Joel Warner of the International Business Times for quoting me:

While some legal experts questioned whether the [RICO] lawsuit [that settled in Colorado] would have held up in court, the fact that it did so much damage not just to a marijuana enterprise but others who did business with it long before the judge ruled on it means RICO lawsuits could be a grave danger for the industry. Why would anyone want to be affiliated with a marijuana operation if it means they could be sued for organized crime? “RICO is the big deal here,” said Pat Oglesby, a tax attorney who studies marijuana at the Center for New Revenue in North Carolina. “The threat of being sued for that kind of tangential involvement with marijuana commerce could be paralyzing. These are probably not frivolous lawsuits that would allow the defendants to sue the plaintiff for damages for abuse of process.” Here is a more complete statement: Continue reading “RICO attacks on private marijuana sellers”

State marijuana businesses are immune from RICO

My friend University of Denver Law Professor Sam Kamin, who co-chaired the Regulatory and Tax Structure Working Group of the California Blue Ribbon Commission on marijuana legalization with me, is to thank for whatever understanding I have of RICO here. Still, Sam does not necessarily agree with anything I write.

Sam points out that RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, poses a huge threat to private marijuana businesses. A Colorado case just settled out of court, with the defendant marijuana business shutting down, and defendants paying $70,000 to plaintiffs.  Another suit is pending. Continue reading “State marijuana businesses are immune from RICO”