A Different Kind Of ‘Tea Party!’

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 14, 2009

    What would you do with an extra $14 billion dollars? NORML will be asking the Obama administration that very question tomorrow when Executive Director Allen St. Pierre will present a mock check to the U.S. Treasury Office at a press conference on the steps of the General Post Office in Midtown Manhattan in New York City.

    Representatives of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, including NORML’s National Director Allen St. Pierre, and New York NORML

    Marijuana law reformers will present a $14 billion check to the U.S. Treasury

    April 15th, 2009 at 8:00 AM (press conference with mock check) and 4:20 PM presentation of check with NORML supporters.

    The steps of the General Post Office in Manhattan
    441 Eighth Ave
    New York, NY

    If you reside in the New York area, please consider showing your support for marijuana legalization by attending this event.  Taxing and regulating doesn’t just make sense, it makes ‘cents’ too!

    Legalizing Pot Makes Lots of Cents for Our Cash-Starved Government
    via Alternet.org

    What could you do with an extra $14 billion dollars? Members of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and other likeminded organizations will be asking government officials that very question on Wednesday, April 15th, when they present a mock check to the U.S. Treasury Office.

    “We represent the millions of otherwise law-abiding cannabis consumers who are ready, willing, vocal and able to contribute needed tax revenue to America’s struggling economy,” says Allen St. Pierre, NORML’s Executive Director. “All we ask in exchange for our $14 billion is that our government respects our decision to use marijuana privately and responsibly.”

    But it’s not just NORML that is calling on lawmakers to tax and regulate marijuana. In today’s economic climate, the question is: who isn’t?

    Late last month, during President Barack Obama’s first-ever Internet Town Hall, questions pertaining to whether legalizing marijuana like alcohol could help boost the economy received more votes from the public than did any other topic. The questions’ popularity — and the President’s half-hearted reply (“No,” he laughed.) — stimulated a torrent of mainstream media attention. In the past two weeks alone, commentators like David Sirota (The Nation), Kathleen Parker (Washington Post), Paul Jacob (TownHall.com), Clarence Page (Chicago Tribune), and Jack Cafferty (CNN) have all expressed sympathy for regulating pot. Even Joe Klein at Time Magazine weighed in on the issue, writing this month that “legalizing marijuana makes sense.”

    It makes cents too.

    According to a 2005 analysis by Harvard University senior lecturer Jeffrey Miron — and endorsed by over 500 distinguished economists — replacing pot prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation similar to that used for alcohol would produce combined savings and tax revenues of between $10 billion and $14 billion per year.

    A separate economic analysis, conducted by George Mason University professor Jon Gettman in 2007, estimates that the total amount of tax revenue derived from cannabis could be far higher. According to Gettman, the retail value of the total U.S. marijuana market now stands at a whopping $113 billion per year. Using standard tax percentages obtained from the Office of Management and Budget, he calculates that the diversion of this market from the taxable economy deprives taxpayers of $31.1 billion annually.

    For local and state governments, taxing and regulating pot could help reduce growing deficits. For instance, in Oakland, California the City Council gave preliminary approval last week to a proposal to raise the business tax paid by city-licensed medical marijuana dispensary operators. Council members estimate that the new tax will raise anywhere from $400,000 to a “couple million” dollars annually.

    Likewise, lawmakers in Massachusetts and California are debating statewide measures to tax and regulate the production and sale of cannabis to adults. Both state proposals would impose a fixed excise tax on the retail production of marijuana — non-retail cultivation would remain untaxed — as well as sales taxes on the commercial sale of the drug to anyone 21 years and older.

    “The revenue effect of the proposed Act is an estimated annual revenue gain of $1.339 billion,” says the California State Board of Equalization and Taxation, which is backing the measure. A more liberal economic assessment performed by California NORML’s Dr. Dale Gieringer estimates that the annual revenues raised via the advent of a legal cannabis industry in California could be far higher.

    “A comparable example would be California’s wine industry,” Gieringer wrote in a 2009 report. “With $12.3 billion in retail sales, the wine industry generates 309,000 jobs, $10.1 billion in wages, and $2 billion in tourist expenditures. Extrapolating these figures to a legal marijuana market, … one might expect $12 to $18 billion in total economic activity, with 60,000 to 110,000 new jobs created, and $2.5 to $3.5 billion in legal wages, which would generate additional income and business taxes for the state.”

    Finally, taxing and regulating cannabis would have the added bonus of taking the production and trafficking of pot out of the hands of criminal enterprises and, increasingly, drug gangs. According to the Associated Press, marijuana is the “biggest source of income” for Mexican drug cartels. Legalizing pot would eliminate this primary income source for these cartels and, in turn, eliminate much of the growing violence and turf battles that currently surround the drug’s illegal importation from Mexico.

    Any way you look at it, legalizing cannabis just “makes sense.” So why aren’t we doing it?

    92 responses to “A Different Kind Of ‘Tea Party!’”

    1. CKDK29 says:


    2. Rob Dizzle says:

      yeah… why the hell not?!

    3. I expect politicians to treat this event like all the others by simply not commenting or turning their heads in silence. We have a better chance of ending prohibtion via the drug wars in Mexico. It’s impossible for politicians to keep turning their heads with so many lives on the line now not to mention the thousands already dead.

      Legalize MJ and stop the blood bath in Mexico!

    4. Bob says:

      Keep it up NORML it is about time I can be considered a US citizen again and maybe employable by companies that have refused in the past because of my jaded past with criminals because I enjoy marijuana for personal use. I have a felony for 23 grams of marijuana 1999 which has stopped me being employed by many companies because of government restrictions.

      Americans Battling for NORML!!!!!!

    5. Preston McGuigan says:

      Great Idea! hopefully this will pose this serious question in a more palpable way. let their imaginations run wild with what they could do with 14 billion dollars.

      what would I do with 14 billion?

      keep 4 billion, donate the rest

    6. Christopher says:

      These are such exciting times! I if I still lived in NY i’d be there in a heart beat. GOOD LUCK!

    7. Phil E. Drifter says:

      Rob Drizzle: yeah… why the hell not?! Because if cannabis were legalized overnight, it would cut our DEA off at the knees. 99% of their workload is busting nonviolent cannabis users/traffickers and pulling ditchweed all along the railroad tracks across the country, since it was shipped around by train during ‘Hemp for Victory’ when it was relegalized in 1942 to ‘grow hemp for the war’ to outfit our navy destroyers with rope, uniforms, parachutes…

    8. bong_jamesbong2001 says:

      Have you all completely lost your minds? WE already paid a million times over whatever tax we might have owed for cannabis. We’re not paying a cent!

      Your check is going to bounce. Send them a bill for all the families and liberties destroyed, for the activists tortured or murdered.

      You plan to use BATF on cannabis consumers? You sick, sell out MFs!

    9. Shawn W. says:

      I hope NORML provides a link or posts a video of both the press conference and the check presentation. I’d love to be there, but alas, New York is about 1,400 miles away from Kansas.

    10. Andrew says:

      I’ll be there. This stupid prohibition must stop.