Answering objections to a tax on opioid marketing

What’s wrong with taxing marketing expenses of opioid sellers?  The article suggesting that tax in the is posted below (exclusive license has expired).

Here are some possible objections:

  1. The horse is out of barn – the problem is that this happened in the past. Most of the damage is done.

Response: Still, this works for the future.

  1. My tax policy friends will almost all insist, in the name of theoretical purity, on taxing all income the same. They will say these are real expenses, and should be deductible.

Continue reading “Answering objections to a tax on opioid marketing”


Marijuana revenue — can any state get $43 per capita, like CO and WA?


I’m to be on a marijuana revenue panel in Connecticut on Monday, April 30. The folks in Connecticut, like everyone else, want to know the bottom line. Whew. That leaves aside the preliminary and necessary questions of what to tax (weight or stated THC, I would say) and tax rates.

OK, jumping the preliminary issues, here’s a wild guess: $155 million a year after the market matures in several years. That’s $43 per inhabitant times 3.588 million population.

The $43 number comes from Colorado and Washington, which legalized two years before any other state. Both those maturing markets are collecting just about that much cannabis tax revenue now. Continue reading “Marijuana revenue — can any state get $43 per capita, like CO and WA?”

New York State takes $100 million in tax or fee revenue from opioid sellers

New York just started imposing an opioid “fee”; text of the law is here. That’s the fee or tax part of New York’s Opioid Stewardship Act, part of an omnibus health and mental hygiene Act, which is here. There is a lot of non-tax stuff in there

New York will collect  from opioid sellers every year $100 million (unindexed for inflation). Here’s how. After the year ends, all opioid manufacturers and distributors will report how many morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs) they sold or distributed. Each seller’s fraction of the total amount of MMEs sold will be its fraction of the $100 million due.   Retailers ordinarily don’t pay tax, and cascading sales (where one product changes hands several times) are taxed only once.

There are three carve-outs.
Continue reading “New York State takes $100 million in tax or fee revenue from opioid sellers”

Forced conversion of marijuana businesses to non-profit? I doubt it.

I’ve learned a lot from my friend Jon Caulkins, a drug policy expert and professor at Carnegie-Mellon (we were among eight co-authors on the RAND report for Vermont, and he’s helped and encouraged me over the years).  Jon worries about for-profit marijuana businesses, and prefers non-profit businesses. Fair enough, but let’s think about practicalities.

In an article in the National Review, “Against a Weed Industry,” Jon suggests, for the eight states where recreational cannabis is legal, “The Justice Department can simply send a letter warning that if the company does not shut down within a reasonable time, its owners will be arrested and its assets seized. . . . The Trump administration could phase out those for-profit businesses in favor of nonprofit organizations by issuing a new memo. . . . Shutting down state-licensed businesses could feed the black market, but not if nonprofit organizations are allowed to take their place.”

But I can’t see that happening. It would be very hard, politically and practically, to replace for-profit cannabis sellers “in favor of” non-profit sellers. Getting from here to there is not easy. Continue reading “Forced conversion of marijuana businesses to non-profit? I doubt it.”

New York State’s $100 Million Opioid . . . Tax

OK, they call it a fee, but it looks like a tax to me.  New York is collecting $100 million from opioid sellers -- with a few exemptions, like for Hospice use.

Here's the law:, mentioned to me by Katherine "KT" Kramer of ASTHO.
 Continue reading "New York State’s $100 Million Opioid . . . Tax"

Taxing opioids

My new article in The Hill has this:  “Make expenses of selling opioids non-deductible on income tax returns. That is, sellers could not deduct the costs of those gifts, junkets, dinners, and salespeople’s salaries on their income tax returns. Making drug companies’ marketing efforts non-tax-deductible is a move, even if a small one, in the right direction. And legitimate users shouldn’t bear any of the tax burden. What’s not to like?”  The federal government can do this, and each state can, too, for its state income tax returns.

Center for New Revenue disbands; founder to invest in hemp farming

Pat Oglesby, founder and director of the North Carolina-based Center for New Revenue, announced plans to disband the non-profit, which has focused on revenue from cannabis, and to invest in hemp farming.

“It’s federally legal,” said Oglesby, “and there’s a lot of money to be made — without tax shenanigans.  I have lots of friends in the cannabis community. Most of them are in the recreational space, but some of them know plenty about hemp, and they are helping me navigate this transition.”

“Maybe someone else will take up the causes of thoughtful marijuana taxation, of government cannabis sales, and of reform rather than repeal of Tax Code section 280E,” he said. “It’s been a good run, but at age 70, I’ve had my say.” Continue reading “Center for New Revenue disbands; founder to invest in hemp farming”