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Your Tax Dollars At Work

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 25, 2010

    Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, along with five previous drug czars (including gambling addict William Bennett), have an op/ed in today’s Los Angeles Times condemning California’s Prop. 19.

    Given that the Drug Czar is required by law to oppose any and all efforts that would seek to legalize marijuana — including “any study … relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of” cannabis — his vitriol should not come as a surprise. Nevertheless, his commentary clearly begs the question: How is it appropriate for Californians to pay taxes to cover the salary of a federal official who spends a significant part of his time telling these same taxpayers how to vote on a statewide ballot measure?

    As far as Kerlikowske’s specific allegations against Prop. 19, suffice to say that you’ve heard them all before — including this whopper, “Law enforcement officers do not currently focus much effort on arresting adults whose only crime is possessing small amounts of marijuana.” (Really? Then how do you explain this? Or this? Or this?)

    NORML has already submitted a rebuttal to the L.A. Times. Our allies at Fire Dog Lake also have posted a strong refutation which you can read here. No doubt the headline says it all: “CA Prop 19: Drug Czars’ Latest Anti-Marijuana Propaganda is Easily Refuted.”

    Here’s a snippet:

    Their argument that a tax on legal marijuana would raise almost no money is just plain silly.

    “Regarding the supposed economic benefits of taxing marijuana, some comparison with two drugs that are already regulated and taxed — alcohol and tobacco — is worth considering. People don’t typically grow their own tobacco or distill their own spirits, so consumers accept high taxes on them as retail products. Marijuana, though, is easy and cheap to cultivate, indoors or out, and Proposition 19 would allow individuals to grow as much as 25 square feet of marijuana for ‘personal consumption.’

    “Why would people volunteer to pay high taxes on marijuana if it were legalized? The answer is that many would not, and the underground market, adapting to undercut any new taxes, would barely diminish at all.”

    I guess the Drug Czars have never heard of convenience before. Most people don’t actually like dealing with criminals or drug dealers. They would rather buy their vodka or marijuana from the liquor store down the street than spend their time tracking down some shady criminal smuggler to save a few bucks on taxes. The end of alcohol prohibition is in fact the perfect test case for this insane theory that legalization would result in almost no decrease of the black market. The reality was an almost immediate destruction of the black market for alcohol. Do you or any of your friends or family currently get liquor on the black market? I doubt it.

    It’s a sound response — to which I would add, I guess the Drug Czar has never heard of supermarkets; because last time I checked these facilities had entire sections of the store dedicated to the sale of fruits, vegetables, and plenty of other food stuffs that folks could grow cheaply and easily on their own — but most don’t. Why? For the same reason most marijuana users, even under legalization, won’t likely grow their own pot: they either don’t have the time, the space, or the expertise to do so. And even among those who do — most folks would simply prefer to pay a premium for the convenience of not having had to do it themselves.

    As for the rest of the Czar’s rhetoric, it’s simply more of the same and the folks at FDL nail it.

    This is what makes the fight to end our war on marijuana so difficult. The other side is not interested in an honest policy debate. Instead of honest argument, they rely on half-truths, distortions, twisted logic, ridiculous statements and naked propaganda. Sadly, America, this op-ed from Kerlikowske and friends is your wasted tax dollars at work.

    61 Responses to “Your Tax Dollars At Work”

    1. […] Paul Armentano has already done a fantastic job slamming their thesis, which presents the following premises: […]

    2. […] Armentano wrote this post for NORML, where he serves as the Deputy Director. Along with Mason Tvert and Steve Fox, Paul is the author […]

    3. […] week I posted a brief response to the Los Angeles Times commentary authored by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske (along with five previous […]

    4. […] week I posted a brief response to the Los Angeles Times commentary authored by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske (along with five previous […]

    5. […] feed for updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginLast week I posted a brief response to the Los Angeles Times commentary authored by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske (along with five previous […]

    6. […] week I posted a brief response to the Los Angeles Times commentary authored by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske (along with five previous […]

    7. […] week I posted a brief response to the Los Angeles Times commentary authored by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske (along with five previous […]

    8. common_sense says:

      We can finally see the connection between alcohol prohibition and current marijuana laws. Most “non-users” with an I.Q. over 50, after hearing both sides, have to admit ALL laws prohibiting marijuana use are clearly laws created and enforced by evil, greedy hypocrites. Now could we please make the wise citizens of America aware of the TOTAL cost of these laws. This includes law enforcement, and other federally funded agency’s, court costs, prison costs, advertising costs, etc. etc. NORML hear this….People need to know exactly how many tax dollars are being wasted on this idiotic law. I don`t know how much the federal government spends but 15 yrs. ago I “heard” it was over $33,000,000,000/yr. And that doesn`t include the state and local costs. And the many many other uses this money could go towards. Like feeding the hungry, or bailing out foreclosed homeowners.

      And when the idiots making these decisions tell more half-truths, tell them we are on the edge of a war between alcohol and ALL illegal drugs. We can go back to 1925 and put ALL drug users in prison….this means you alcoholics; shut down all alcohol producing companies, and imprison the owners for life, or we can listen to logic and let this little plant live.

      I would like a dollar amount please….how much taxpayer money goes to destroy this plant? Compare that amount to how much the government spends on anti-drunk drivers and prevention of child molestation.Compared to a lot of things it shows what is important to the idiots in control of American citizens. If every American was made aware of this, marijuana would be legalized today. God bless NORML

    9. Duncan20903 says:

      Wow, somebody needs to tell all the Prop 215 cannabis consumers in CA that they can just grow their own for free. The CBOE said they collected somewhere between $50 million and $100 million in 2009 from sales taxes collected by dispensaries. Everyone who’s legal to purchase at a dispensary is legally entitled to grow, and not restricted to a pint sized 25 square foot canopy either.

      Why in the hell do people think high grade cannabis is so easy to produce? Perhaps moreso the converse, that tobacco and alcohol take some kind of special knowledge?

    10. […] week I posted a brief response to the Los Angeles Times commentary authored by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske (along with five previous […]

    11. […] week I posted a brief response to the Los Angeles Times commentary authored by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske (along with five previous […]

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