Here’s a new edition of my “you be the judge” series.
These are posts designed to explore some of the more challenging aspects of a pro-libertarian philosophy.
Today’s example comes from Colorado, which had displayed a libertarian streak on issues ranging from school choice to drug legalization.
But the latter issue is the source of today’s quandary. Should marijuana be legal if it means more tax revenue that will be used by the political elite to expand the burden of government spending?
Here are the details from the Denver CBS station.
A draft bill floating around the Capitol late this week suggests that a new ballot question on pot taxes should repeal recreational pot in the state constitution if voters don’t approve 15 percent excise taxes on retail pot and a new 15 percent marijuana sales tax. Those would be in addition to regular state and local sales taxes. …Marijuana activists immediately blasted the proposal as a backhanded effort to repeal the pot vote, in which 55 percent of Coloradans chose to flout federal drug law and declare pot legal in small amounts for adults over 21.
If my math is correct, the politicians want a 30 percent special tax on marijuana, which is on top of the regular taxes that would be imposed.
That would be fine with me – if the proposal specified that the additional tax revenue was offset by a tax cut of equal size.
But as I explained in my “starve-the-beast” post, higher taxes usually finance bigger government.
Indeed, some politicians openly admit that they want the new revenue to expand the budget.
Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, said the whole purpose of legalizing recreational marijuana was to raise money for education and other programs. “So if there’s no money, we shouldn’t have marijuana,” Crowder said. …In Washington state, the only other place where voters last year approved recreational pot, the ballot measure set taxes at 75 percent, settling the question. Both states are still waiting to find out whether the federal government plans to sue to block retail sales of the drug, set to begin next year.
Though I didn’t realize that the state of Washington imposes a 75 percent tax on marijuana. How…um…French!
More Money for Government? The Ultimate Buzz Kill
So what’s the bottom line? If I lived in Colorado, would I vote to keep pot legal even if it meant more money from the buffoons in the state capital?
Since drug legalization is about 990 out of 1000 in my list of priorities, I’m tempted to say no.
On the other hand, it would be nice to reduce the onerous burden of the War on Drugs, which has been used an excuse to expand the size and scope of government.
What do you think?
P.S. If you want more examples of “you be the judge,” previous editions are listed below.
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