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Free Joints at Tax Protest

In what might be the best marketing strategy ever, a group against Proposition AA gave out free joints at the Boulder Pearl Street Mall. More than a thousand were passed out.

The issue, which will be decided on the upcoming November ballot, is whether or not to increase taxes on marijuana, as well as how enforcement for quantities exceeding the laws limits will be handled. The increased taxes would fund, among other things, a new “marijuana enforcement” arm of the police force. The pro-marijuana movement, according to the Boulder Weekly, is divided in their support for increased taxes – primarily because they differ on what level of enforcement is needed for weed.

Some want strict regulations, both in the way marijuana is produced, as well as how it is distributed. They point out a few advantages – a regulated supply can improve quality and impose needed standards, while strong enforcement can keep weed out of the hands of young people. Both of these would reflect well on Colorado as a responsible place for cannabis use. Others don’t want much, if any regulation. They prefer to let cannabis users decide. Many fear that once something is confirmed in law, it won’t be easy to make changes.

Opponents also accuse government of a kind of “bait and switch,” since cannabis was supposed to be taxed “like alcohol.” Alcohol has a very low tax rate compared to taxes proposed for marijuana.

How much tax? If the measure passes, about $100 on a $300 ounce of cannabis. That alone might be enough to reawaken the black market as some would naturally want to avoid the taxes – perhaps boosting their profit margins as a result. We already see this happening with cigarettes. Smugglers bring smokes into states with high taxes from states with lower taxes – the price difference is enough to make it worth the risk.


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