Is it time for governments to tax marijuana?
Mayors from eight B.C. communities have joined together to lobby the provincial government to regulate and tax marijuana as part of a strategy to make communities safer, boosting revenues at the same time.
In their letter, the mayors argue prohibition has led to large-scale grow-ops, increased organized crime, ongoing gang violence, and larger police budgets. And they're not alone.
Across the border, Massachusetts legislators are debating a bill that would legalize, regulate and tax the commercial production of marijuana. Colorado and Washington will vote on marijuana legalization initiatives later this year.
Many see this as a win-win for taxpayers: Less money going into the bloated prison system for drug offenders and a new tax coming into public coffers for other worthy projects.
Governments could issue and collect fees for licenses for cultivation, processing, retail sale, and research from farmer-processor-retailers, the economic argument goes.
Past studies estimate that B.C.’s marijuana industry is worth as much as $7-billion per year — making it the province’s largest cash crop, pretty much all of it underground.
"By keeping it illegal, the government is losing out on $2-billion in tax revenues in that province alone. But when one considers that Ontario and Quebec also produce large quantities of marijuana, it becomes clear that, if the industry was legalized, it could become a significant source of revenue," writes Jesse Lines in the National Post.
And many of the folks on this forum see things the same way. But, to tax it, you have to legalize it. Or at least decriminalize it. And that doesn't sit well with those who worry about the slippery slope.
Would it be sold commercially? What would be the age limit for consumption? What, if anything, could be done to prevent Canada from becoming even more of black market for the U.S.?
Do you agree? Is is time to institute a cannabis tax?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money