In a move that didn’t surprise many people, Colorado voters yesterday approved a 15% excise tax and a 10% sales tax on legal recreational marijuana sales. There was some opposition to the proposition, but it was widely predicted that the proposition would pass. The final vote tally showed the proposition passed 65% to 35%. I know there will still be some people upset about how high the taxes are, but it could be worse.
Washington State is looking to tax recreational marijuana at a far higher percentage. Unlike in Washington State, Colorado residents have a very easy way to get around the tax – grow your own marijuana. Colorado allows home cultivation, while Washington State doesn’t. It could be even worse than in Washington. If someone lives in a state where marijuana is very much illegal, like say Louisiana, there is no amount of tax that can be paid for legal marijuana purchases, and if you grow it at home you could be looking at some hefty jail time and fines.
Before people get up in arms about the new taxes in Colorado, take a step back and try to get back in the mindset before the 2012 Election victory. Remember when everyone was saying that we should legalize marijuana, tax it, and have the revenue generated go to help balance budgets? If you were told at that time that legalization would become a reality, but it would come at the expense of 25% in tax, would you have taken the deal? It seems that only after the reality of the situation is setting in that some people are freaking out.
Would I like to see a lower tax rate? Of course. But would I throw legalization out the window in exchange for a different tax rate? Of course not, because legal marijuana taxed at 25% is better than no legal marijuana at all. We can fight the tax fight another day, during another election. For right now we need to remember that there are states that don’t have legal marijuana at all. I guarantee there is someone in Texas scratching their head wondering what all the fuss is about. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments section.