Marijuana Legalization Could Be on November Ballots
Signatures are currently being collected for a constitutional amendment in the state of California that would fully legalize marijuana for all adults regardless of medical need. Essentially pot would become a regular old controlled substance like tobacco or alcohol.
While the amendment, currently being called The Inalienable Rights Enforcement Initiative, may not actually get the required 694,354 signatures it needs by September 5, 2008 in order to make it onto the November ballot, it might be a big step in the right direction for a state who's incredibly vague medical marijuana laws have turned out to be troublesome and riddled with problems.
Here in Humboldt County, Calfironia's most well-known marijuana producing region, pot growing is totally out of control, and residents are starting to notice the problems associated with irresponsible growers, lack of taxation and regulation, and the all-out exploitation of Proposition 215 which has resulted in widespread greed and lawlessness.
The amendment would allow the state to legalize the sale of marijuana at any store that sells alcohol, and would "establish local boards with expansive powers" to allow for proper regulation and taxation at a local level. The amendment also would require tax revenues to support "specific programs" and would immunize marijuana growers and sellers from liability.
State revenue would be collected in the form of stamp and license sales, much like tobacco. A $5 stamp would be required for the sale of an eighth ounce of pot ($640 for a pound), and a $50 annual license would be required for each marijuana plant grown. 30% of this revenue would wind up back in the localities where the stamps and licenses were sold.
As good as it sounds on the face, this thing probably won't make it to the ballots, and if it does, it certainly won't get the popular vote. Here's why: The amendment would also exempt marijuana profits from income taxes, prohibit advertisements for tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, and require substantial up-front costs to establish the proper boards and regulations throughout the state.
Basically, the proposal involves too many non-marijuana-related clauses and extra requirements to actually capture the popular vote. Also, why the hell would marijuana profits ever be exempt from income tax? Isn't that already a major problem here in Humboldt County where thousands of growers are greedily raking in untaxed income and giving absolutely nothing back to the community? Isn't that a big piece of the story of recent federal raids on growers throughout Humboldt?
We understand that the author(s) of this initiative are trying to stick it to The Man by specifically stating that no income tax shall be paid on marijuana profits until the government prohibition of marijuana is lifted, but it is still absurd to propose that income from the sale of a substance that is worth as much as $400 per ounce and grows everywhere be exempt from taxation. Get real. The last thing we need is a law encouraging people to grow pot and evade federal taxes.
Read the actual text of the initiative here. Then tell us what you think. Would you vote to have eighths of weed sold alongside tobacco at your neighborhood gas station? Would you pass a law that would legitimize for-profit pot growing and encourage federal income tax evasion? Would you actually expect the same growers who currently do not pay taxes on their profits to shell out $640 for a stamped baggie to put a pound of their homegrown in before selling it to a dealer?
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