A piece of the action

Republicans seek to fix Marijuana Legalization

To their credit, last year Virginia Democrats started the state on the path to ending marijuana prohibition. But being Democrats, they could not resist mucking it up with needless regulation.

First, they legalized use and possession of an ounce or less, but allowed only 4 legal markets for the entire state until 2024.

Then they sought, as always, to choose the winners and losers in the marketplace, reserving future licenses to grow and supply to ‘communities adversely affected by cannabis prohibition.’ As opposed to farmers and lawful retailers.

Finally, they taxed it so heavily (26%) that the black market will still have a niche.

Alcohol prohibition was bad, but when we ended it, we didn’t give a monopoly in the marketplace to Al Capone. We did overtax it, which is why there is still a market for moonshine.

Anyway, hopefully Republican politicians who are not hostile to free markets can set it right.

22 thoughts on “A piece of the action

  1. I do not know the legislative history of the provisions which you characterize as the Democrats mucking the reform up, but I do know from the first sentence of your cite that the “Newly empowered Republican lawmakers in Virginia who opposed legalizing simple possession of marijuana” made the task of getting something done unnecessarily difficult when their supposed faith in the free market SHOULD have had them on board. But, the Party of No could not help themselves and had to try to block everything.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Who knows?
            You don’t. I don’t.
            Without the support of the Republicans it may have been seen as politically necessary to include these kinds of delaying measures as a form of protection from the attacks sure to be launched.

            You characterize 26% as a “high tax” Is it? What is the effective tax on spirits in Virginia given that the state is the seller at fairly high prices?

            And what is so damn wrong about letting experienced dealers who have heretofore been punished for their enterprise having a leg up getting the legal business going? Look at it from their point of view, if you can.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. It’s not the job of the legislature to look at things from any group’s point of view. Their job is to provide the Rule of Law so the marketplace can find the most efficient solutions.

            If existing dealers are the best choice, then investors will flock to them, so long as their business plan does not involve shooting their competitors.

            Since the GA has given the ABC monopoly control of the market in spirits, I have no real way of knowing the effective tax rate, but that’s another bad idea that should be eliminated.

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          3. “ It’s not the job of the legislature to look at things from any group’s point of view.”

            Then why have a representative form of government? Considering the interests of farmers and programmers, rural and urban, is how laws are hammered out.

            Liked by 2 people

  2. RE: “Anyway, hopefully Republican politicians who are not hostile to free markets can set it right.”

    A truly free market approach would be to decriminalize, deregulate and not tax production, sale and possession of marijuana. Based on the Pilot article, it sounds like the Republicans in the General Assembly aren’t willing to go that far.

    I can’t think of any benefits a marijuana free market might produce that would offset the predictable costs. Consequently, the progress toward ending prohibition looks to me like a paradigm shift away from using the law to reinforce shared moral values toward using bureaucracy for that purpose, instead. That doesn’t strike me as an advancement. I expect that morality itself will suffer (because bureaucracy “demoralizes” everything it touches).

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      1. Well, there are predictable benefits.

        Fewer young men in jail and fewer young men and innocent bystanders getting shot over marketing rights for a neighborhood.

        And, of course, greater personal freedom.

        (But I still have no interest in using the stuff anyway. )

        Liked by 1 person

        1. But I admire your stance that people should have the right to do so.

          There are several states that have previously legalized recreational use of weed. They offer good blueprints for VA to follow. Instead of trying to do from scratch that which has been done elsewhere, it would make more sense to use the best outcomes from those states.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. The best idea would be to simply remove all laws controlling cannabis, tax it at the same rate as other goods subject to sales tax and exclude force from the marketplace.

            Beyond that, just stay out of the way.

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          2. …”same rate as other goods subject to sales tax”””

            Like tobacco and alcohol? The “sin taxes” go back decades across the county.

            Should they be taxed? I think we both agree they should. Should they be taxed differently than other items? Probably, due to the higher state cost associated with something that is still considered illegal by the Feds. Get the feds to remove cannabis from Schedule 1 of illegal drugs, and then we have something.

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      2. RE: “. . . the predictable costs”

        One way to define the predictable costs is to imagine every person of every age group being stoned all the time. The predictable costs are a subset of the collection of consequences that would result from that condition.

        RE: “And which shared ‘moral values’ are you referring to?”

        The operative one here is the belief that people shouldn’t use marijuana. When marijuana was illegal, that was the moral value the law reinforced. The law changed because the moral value changed.

        RE: “Is it more immoral to smoke a joint than to drink a beer?”

        I don’t know. I’m more concerned with pointing out that the law is a more flexible and nuanced way to represent the will of the people than bureaucratic regulation can ever be.

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        1. It is unlawful for me to drive(or fly or operate a power boat) while under the measurable influence of Bourbon because that presents a hazard to others.

          It is within the rights of my(hypothetical) employer to require I not be under the influence while at work because that deprives him of my best efforts.

          I see no reason that the same principles not apply to cannabis

          Liked by 1 person

        2. “One way to define the predictable costs is to imagine every person of every age group being stoned all the time.”

          A new level of absurdity!

          I asked about SHARED moral values. Not the beliefs of some fringe group.

          The “law” is inherently inflexible. That is why we need the human beings you call bureaucrats to administer it.

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          1. RE: “I asked about SHARED moral values. Not the beliefs of some fringe group.”

            Yes, you did, going off on a tangent. I never asserted that certain moral values need to be reinforced by law, only that the law, as an institution, tends to reflect moral values.

            My claim is that the law and bureacratic regulation are fundamentally different. Now that marijuana is legal there is a rush to regulate the marijuana industry. The result will not be a free market, but a crony-capitalist industry. Should we decide, down the road, to make marijuana illegal again, it will be much harder to do so.

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          2. Whose moral values are we talking about?

            https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/04/16/americans-overwhelmingly-say-marijuana-should-be-legal-for-recreational-or-medical-use/

            It could be argued that moral values are not a popularity contest. But the history of drug laws in the US is suspect anyway. Racial fears drove many of the laws. “Reefer Madness”, a movie in the 40’s or 50’s was used to scare Americans (and keeping them drinking beer and booze, I might add).

            Almost every culture has some form of acceptable intoxicant. Cocoa leaves, marijuana, Khat, opium, alcohol, etc. The problem is both addiction and refinements to increase addiction. Crack, meth, heroin laced with fentanyl are all done to speed up addiction and keep quantities tiny and portable to avoid authorities. Fortified wines provide alcoholics with a cheap source.

            Just like tobacco and the cigarette manufacturers, the idea was to find the most addictive blends of tobacco and additives.

            But those are public health issues. We did not ban cigarettes, but through education and marketing, we made it socially less acceptable without having to jail more folks than anyone else in the world.

            Liked by 2 people

          3. RE: “It could be argued that moral values are not a popularity contest.”

            How is that relevant? Whether they are a popularity contest or not, the fact remains that the law as an institution tends to reflect the moral values of the society in which it operates. Bureaucracy doesn’t have this characteristic.

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          4. …” that the law as an institution tends to reflect the moral values of the society in which it operates.”

            If that were truly the case, this discussion would be moot. We would also have some sort of gun control except for the fact that the “moralist” law makers who make those decisions are owned by gun lobbyists and 2A purists.

            Liked by 1 person

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