(Economist Leader) How to tax and regulate marijuana

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Legalisation is just the first step. Pot must also be regulated. Because it is more dangerous than chocolate or chips, it needs to be subject to more stringent safety checks than food. As with alcohol, anybody who wants to produce it for sale, or sell it, should be licensed, as they will be in Colorado. It should carry clear labels showing its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, just as cans of beer display their alcoholic strength—consumers should know what they are smoking. Colorado seems to be handling this well: labels are clear, safety rules stringent.

Deciding how to tax the stuff means asking some fundamental questions. Where governments want to raise revenue without distorting markets, the best approach is to charge businesses a flat fee, like a cab licence. Firms then have an incentive to do as much business as they can. But where governments want to discourage consumption—as with cigarettes and alcohol—they should tax each unit sold.

Although marijuana does not harm people as reliably as cigarettes do, nor—as alcohol does—incite citizens to kill each other, it is not good for you. And although too little research has been done on the extent of the harm it can do, it is thought to raise the risk of schizophrenia and undermine motivation. This argues for a consumption tax, and a fairly stiff one at that.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 11, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
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