Last week voters in Pueblo County in Colorado approved a 5% increase in cannabis taxes to be implemented by the year 2020. Authorities estimate that an extra $3.5 million in revenue will be raised, and half of that is supposed to go to scholarships for high school graduates in the county.
I realize a lot of activists complain about the fact that cannabis is taxed at all. Believe me, as a libertarian, I wish marijuana would be legal and tax free. Ideals are great, but when you’re talking about getting marijuana legalization sooner rather than later, some measure of practicality has to come in to play.
Ninety percent — roughly — of adults in the U.S. do not use cannabis on a regular basis. This means that, best case scenario, 100% of the stoner vote will equal 10% of the total vote. The other 40% has to be made up. The key is a large group of people who do not use cannabis themselves (or at least not regularly) but, for whatever reason, think it should be legal. We want that group to be as large as possible. Taxation is one of the levers used to move that group.
Tax money for schools has long been a tried-and-true method of getting votes; the nation’s lottery system is built on it. So, facing an uphill battle and the stigma that surrounds cannabis, tax money for schools was employed — and to great success so far. This is especially true in Colorado.
The bottom line is that marijuana taxes are a thing, and they always will be. Legalization will come with taxation. It’s up to activists to keep those taxes as low as possible.
Instead of fighting the idea of taxes, we need to embrace it and use it to our advantage.