The subject of taxes on marijuana brings a lot of different opinions out of activists. From those who believe cannabis should never be taxed to those who revel in the large amount of revenue that can be gleaned from a new, legal marijuana industry, opinions run the gamut.
From a practical standpoint, taxes are going to come with legalization. If we wait for legalization without taxation, we will be waiting a long time, if not forever. In fact, it is the prospect of tax revenue that brings a lot of people who otherwise would not be receptive to the idea of legalization around to our way of thinking, politicians and citizens alike.
A new report by the Tax Foundation shows that federal, local and state governments could pull in $28 billion a year in tax revenue from a “mature marijuana industry.” Of course that wouldn’t make much of a dent in the $6 trillion+ spent by those governments every year, but marijuana taxes are not about balancing budgets, they're about getting the money that drug dealers currently keep for themselves.
Of course $28 billion is a rough estimate considering the still murky nature of national cannabis use statistics. Add to that the fact that higher tax rates will keep more customers buying from the black market, which will bring revenue down. This shows the delicate nature of taxes on the marijuana industry; if they are set too high they could destroy the very revenue they are supposed to generate.
In a perfect world marijuana would not be taxed. But legal marijuana will be taxed and, for the good of the industry, activists need to fight to keep those taxes as low as possible. A balance must be found and maintained if legalization is going to happen nationwide.