The ultimate joke, that California might turn to legalizing and taxing weed to help get out of its budget mess, is coming closer to reality — at least in the sense that people are seriously talking about it.
Gregor MacDonald, who’s written extensively about California’s economic crisis, thinks it’s the right move.
This is good news because it suggests some in California are ready to deal with their new negotiating partner: reality (Kunstler). It is absolutely rational and level-headed for California to consider legalizing and taxing marijuana. The state is already a leader in the production of medical marijuana, and the climate in many parts of the State is perfect for the crop. An ancillary benefit could be to dampen, if not deaden, some of the drug trafficking incentives which have been in place for over 40 years along California’s border with Mexico. We have reached the point where California needs to develop both marijuana and oil economies.
By some estimates marijuana crop production in California accounts for roughly 14 billion in gross sales. That would make marijuana the states largest single cash crop. One has to believe that current growers would happily trade the costs and risks of concealment for the visibility of taxation. Which would also afford property protection. The current estimate is that taxation could start to yield over 1 billion for the state annually. That’s not going to close either the budget gap of 26 billion, or, make a dent in a 100 billion annual budget. But legalization could bring some efficiencies and perhaps became the basis for an expansion of the marijuana economy.
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