Congressional Research Service: Report On Federal Government Taxing Marijuana

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a comprehensive thirty five-page report last week examining the federal government establishing a wholesale excise tax on the production and sale of cannabis-related products.
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In what is one of the most comprehensive policy and fiscal reviews to date of how cannabis can be taxed and regulated numerous areas of consideration were reviewed including enforcement, discouraging youth use, choosing the base to tax (i.e., weight, potency and price), restrictions, labeling, measurement, special tax rates, home production and medical cannabis. Members of Congress initiate these reports to CRS.

CRS’ economic analysis indicates that cannabis prices are likely to fall from today’s prohibition-influenced prices of $200-$300 an ounce to as low $5-$18 ounce. Economic modeling based on a $40 billion annual cannabis market in the United States tests a $50 per ounce federal excise tax price point (generating nearly $7 billion in federal excise taxes).

When making the logical comparison of alcohol and cannabis’ ‘external costs’ (i.e., taxation to equate with external costs of the drug use to society), researchers peg alcohol’s external costs to the nation at $30 billion annually; cannabis, at $0.5 – $1.6 billion.

NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre commenting on the new CRS paper: “This CRS report on the prospects of the federal government taxing and regulating cannabis is another clear indication of the political saliency and fiscal appeal of ending cannabis prohibition at the state, and increasingly at the federal level (replacing the nearly eighty-year old failed federal policy with tax-n-regulate policies that are similar to alcohol and tobacco products).

With fours states and the District of Columbia since 2012 opting for legalizing cannabis, dozens of members of Congress from both major political parties—from states with legalization and those that pine for it—are getting serious about making sure the federal government does not lose out on hundreds of millions annually in tax revenue from the ever-growing cannabis industry in the United States.”

 

 

 

Who and Where: America’s Ever-Growing Marijuana Industry

Last week in conjunction with the well attended Las Vegas Cannabis Business Expo was the launch of a new business-centric webpage created to highlight the women and men of America’s nascent cannabis industry, as well as to foster needed B2B relationships and ‘best of industry’ practices among the many thousands of new cannabis-related businesses that have been founded in the last five years.sheet-of-money-hemp

CannabisBusinessExecutive’s launch demonstrates a basic and continuing need by cannabis entrepreneurs for community and kinship in the fast growing and challenging new domestic cannabis industry, notably in the states of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington (where voters since 2012 have approved binding ballot initiatives replacing failed cannabis prohibition policies in favor of tax-n-regulate policies that look similar to existing alcohol policies).

Of note regarding CannabisBusinessExecutive’s unique content are three of it’s main features:

Industry’s Top 100 players

Pot’s Political 50

Most Influential Women

Additionally, for citizens interested in cannabis-related business news and investing opportunities, other excellent sources include:

Marijuana Business Daily 

Marijuana Venture 

For the doubting Thomas that cannabis legalization is not gaining more and more cultural and commercial cachet in America (and the world), look no further than to the major corporate cannabis branding announcement EXCLUSIVE made yesterday morning on The Today Show during the show’s prime time (7:35AM).

 

 

 

What It Means To ‘Get High’

What it means to 'get high'After several decades of Reefer Madness propaganda dominating the discussion of marijuana in the media, it should be no surprise that many Americans, especially older Americans who are not personally familiar with marijuana, believe that “getting high” is somehow a bad experience, something to be avoided by responsible citizens. It is assumed that this experience is a waste of time, or even worse, that it somehow damages the healthy individual.

Yet, I have found that marijuana smoking has been a positive experience in my life, allowing me, when I am high, to stand back half-a-step and see my life in a clearer perspective. Yes, we all know that getting high is fun: food tastes better when one is high, and music sounds better and sex is even more enjoyable. But getting high is more than just pleasurable; in the right situation, it is an enriching experience.

Specifically, if I have something I need to write, whether an article for publication or the outline for a talk I am scheduled to deliver, I find it extraordinarily helpful to isolate myself in my home office for a few hours and get stoned, allowing my mind to freely wander, making notes of any seemingly insightful thoughts that result, jotting down whatever free-associations arise, and frequently discovering issues and new ways to analyze a topic that should have been obvious to me all along, but had not come to mind until I was high.

It’s as if the marijuana high eliminates some of the barriers we otherwise construct on our imagination and our creativity. Somehow, we appear to protect ourselves from the perceived risk of thinking out of the mainstream, by closing off some creative pathways. Marijuana can reopen those pathways, and give us new understanding.

Read the rest of the article at marijuana.com »

NORML Responds To Latest ‘Pot Shrinks The Brain’ Fears

NORML’s Deputy Director today on Alternet.org addressed new media claims that cannabis use can potentially shrink the brain:

[excerpt] A new study identifying minor differences in the brain imaging of habitual marijuana consumers compared to non-users may be ideal for stimulating sensational headlines (e.g., “Regular pot smokers have shrunken brains, study says,” Los Angeles Times, November 10), but tells us little in regard to whether pot poses actual health risks.

Specifically, an MRI scan revealed less gray matter in the orbital frontal cortex of pot-smoking subjects compared to those who had never used the drug. Researchers also identified increased connectivity between certain regions of the brain in regular marijuana users compared with non-users.

So precisely what do these findings tell us in regard to pot use and health? Not much. Since the study design is not longitudinal, investigators cannot determine whether these differences are caused by subject’s cannabis use, whether these differences existed prior to subjects’ ever trying cannabis, or whether these differences persist when users’ cannabis consumption ceases.

Most importantly, investigators in this study failed to determine whether any of these differences are positively associated with any measurable adverse performance outcomes, such as cognitive performance or quality of life. It may be that these cannabis users are functioning in their daily lives in a manner that is indistinguishable from controls, in which case the imaging differences may hold little if any real-world significance. (In fact, one of the paper’s authors acknowledged, “[C]hronic users appear to be doing fine.”)

Full text of NORML’s response, “Media Leaping to Extremely Faulty Conclusions from Study on the Effects of Marijuana on the Brain,” appears online here.

New York City Officials Announce Plan To Halt Minor Marijuana Arrests

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton publicly announced plans yesterday to halt the NYPD’s practice of arresting tens of thousands of minor marijuana offenders annually.

Under the new plan, set to take effect November 19, city police would issue first-time marijuana offenders a summons, payable by a fine, in lieu of making a criminal arrest.

Though the Mayor and the Police Commissioner have made pledges in the past to reduce the city’s marijuana arrest totals, which average nearly 30,000 per year, they have previously failed to do so. Of those arrested for minor marijuana offenses in New York City, a disproportionate percentage (86 percent) are either Black or Latino. Nearly three out of four arrested possessed no prior criminal record.

Although New York state law classifies minor marijuana possession offenses as a non-criminal offense, separate penal law (NY State Penal Law 221.10) defines marijuana possession in a manner that is ‘open to public view’ as an arrestable offense.

Mayor de Blasio called the City’s proposed depenalization policy “a smart policy that keeps New Yorkers safe, but it is also a more fair policy.”

420 Food Safety Joins the NORML Business Network

1415479397NORML is pleased to announce 420 Food Safety as the newest member of the NORML Business Network.  420 Food Safety works to help businesses produce safe wholesome products from the farm to the customer. The marijuana industry is fraught with risk and regulations, especially when it comes to edibles and other food products. This company works to help reduce that risk and increase education by implementing science-based techniques from good agricultural practices to food safety plans.  It’s a multi-layered program summed up by the company slogan “seed to sale safety.” Consumers  need to know that growers and manufacturers understand how to preclude physical, chemical and microbiological hazards from their products, and this company is perfectly positioned to do just that.  When it comes to food safety, self regulation is a crucial component to the success of this burgeoning new industry.

Dr. Michele Pfannenstiel serves as 420 Food Safety’s President and CEO. Dr. P first learned the food safety skills she now brings to cannabis producers and processors across the country when she was commissioned into the US Army Veterinary Corps. She is a certified HACCP auditor through ASQ. Her audits are accepted by such companies as Whole Foods and L.L. Bean. She serves as the President of the Maine chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, and as the Director of Food Safety for the national Farmer Veteran Coalition. A sought after speaker, Dr. P has taught food safety workshops at the Stone Barns Center, Pigstock, the Wallace Center Food Hub Conference, the New England Meat Conference, and the Empowering Women Veterans in Business and Agriculture Conference.

For more information about 420 Food Safety, contact info@420foodsafety.com or visit their website:  www.420foodsafety.com.

 

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2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report: Marijuana Arrests Down, Still Cost Over 457 Million Annually

norml_remember_prohibition2The FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report was released this morning and provides an updated look at the total number of marijuana arrests law enforcement made across the country in 2013.

The good news is that numbers are down slightly from 2012’s arrest figures. In 2012, there were about 749,825 marijuana arrests (compared to 757,969 in 2011).

The new report shows a modest decrease in arrests. In 2013, there was a total of 693,481 arrests made for marijuana charges, with the overwhelming majority of these being for simple possession. Law enforcement made about 609,423 arrests for possession alone, a decrease of 48,808 arrests compared to 2012. While we may be seeing slight decreases due to the growing number of states who have begun to reform their marijuana policies, the fact that over 600,000 individuals are still being arrested for a non-violent act shows how much work we have left to do in ending our disastrous prohibition of marijuana.

Using the ACLU low-level estimate of cost per arrest ($750), the minimum enforcement cost for the 609,423 individuals put in handcuffs for just marijuana possession in 2013 would be in excess of $457,067,250.

(NOTE: Numbers in this reporting were rounded to the nearest decimal point. You can read the full Uniform Crime Report here.)

Marijuana is Winning – Help Us Keep Up the Momentum!

NORML has been fighting to legalize marijuana for more than forty years, and as we saw from this week’s midterm election results, our hard work is starting to pay off. Though we are a divided nation in many ways, voters across the political spectrum were largely united on Election Day in their near overwhelming support for marijuana law reform. NORML’s ability to educate and unite people behind this cause has largely been made possible by donations and contributions from people like you. Thanks to NORML’s outreach efforts, Americans are now aware that it makes no sense from any objective measure to perpetuate the prosecution and stigmatization of those adults who choose to responsibly consume a substance that is safer than either alcohol or tobacco. But we still need your support to keep up the momentum, and to continue bringing our winning message of legalization to the American people.

Two More States – and Washington DC – Legalize Marijuana: 

The two most significant victories of the night no doubt occurred in Oregon and Alaska – where both states passed measures legalizing and regulating the cannabis plant’s retail production and sale, as well as permitting adults to grow the plant for their own personal use. In Oregon, 56 percent of voters approved the measure – the highest percentage ever to endorse a statewide campaign to regulate adult marijuana sales. Alaska and Oregon are the third and fourth states to enact regulations regarding the retail production and sale of cannabis goods, joining Colorado and Washington.

Voters in the nation’s capitol provided arguably the most resounding victory on Election Day. An overwhelming 69 percent of District voters – yes, I said 69 percent – said ‘yes’ to Initiative 71, which removes criminal and civil penalties regarding the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to three mature plants. Indeed, marijuana law reform has come to Washington, DC and there is no way for our federal officials to ignore it.

NORML Needs You Now More Than Ever!
There remains much work to be done – and this is why we still need your continued financial support. NORML’s outreach and media efforts in the coming months will be more important than ever, as we fight to maintain our historic gains and push forward for new ones. We can’t expect our prohibitionist opponents to take these victories lying down, and we still need the resources to move legalization across the country. Please donate $50 or whatever you can afford today and help ensure our victories become the foundation for progressive marijuana policy nationwide.

NORML PAC Candidates Sweep US House Races

All seven of NORML PAC’s publicly endorsed candidates for the US House of Representatives won decisively in yesterday’s midterm election.

These include:

Rep. Alan Grayson for Congress (FL-09)
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman for Congress (NJ-12)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer for Congress (OR-03)
Rep. Steve Cohen for Congress (TN-9)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke for Congress (TX-16)
Rep. Denny Heck for Congress (WA-10)
Rep. Jared Polis for Congress (CO-02)

These candidates all endorsed the full legalization of marijuana and are dedicated to championing reform at the federal level in the 114th Congress. We fully expect these individuals to be instrumental in introducing and advancing important legislation when they begin their new session in January.

“What is really worth noting,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “Is that all of our endorsements for the US House of Representatives happened to be Democrats and all won by large margins in a year where others in their party were getting handily defeated nationwide. Perhaps this, coupled with solid wins for legalization in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia, will send a message to Democratic Party members across the country that it is not only good policy to support marijuana legalization, but good politics.”

Also winning their elections were NORML PAC endorsed New Jersey Senate candidate Cory Booker and Maine State Representative Diane Russell.

Want to help us continue to elect pro-reform candidates across the country? DONATE to NORML PAC today!

Legalization Wins In 3 States! Only Florida Medical Use Falls Short

Legalize ItThe election results were overwhelmingly positive for marijuana smokers last night, with full-legalization proposals being approved in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia. And even the one losing initiative, the medical-use proposal in Florida, won the approval of a significant majority of the voters.

Measure 91 in Oregon

In a convincing victory, Oregon voters approved Measure 91, which legalizes the use and cultivation of marijuana by those 21 and older and establishes a system of licensing, taxing and regulating marijuana sales under the auspices of the Oregon Liquor Control Board, with an impressive 55 percent of the vote.

More specifically, under Measure 91, adults will be permitted to possess up to eight ounces of “dried” marijuana and cultivate up to four plants. And they will be allowed to give up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana products in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana products in liquid form, to other individuals 21 and older; they can not be compensated or reimbursed for these transactions. Adults will be allowed to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana products in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana products in liquid form from properly registered businesses. These limits are more permissive than those previously approved in Washington and Colorado, and may provide a model for other states to emulate.

To Read the Balance of This Column, Go To Marijuana.com