Massachusetts Marijuana Tax Compromise

Here is an excerpt from my letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe, just published online:

In November, Massachusetts voters approved a 12 percent marijuana tax that would undercut the black market, but the House has proposed a 28 percent rate, in line with what other states collect.

Both sides are right — at different times. The marijuana market is a moving target, and needs a moving tax rate. As time goes on, pretax prices will fall, and the black market will weaken. So taxes can go up.

A solution is at hand — provided by proponents of marijuana legalization in federal bill S.776, the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act: Schedule rate increases to phase in year by year.

If increases come too fast, the Legislature can cut taxes. That avoids the problem of having legislators vote to raise taxes as needed, which is like cutting off a cat’s tail an inch at a time. Do it now and get it over with.

Patrick Oglesby
Chapel Hill, N.C.

The writer is the founder of the Center for New Revenue, is a former chief tax counsel of the  US Senate Finance Committee, and was cochair of the Regulatory and Tax Structure Working Group of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy for California.


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