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First signs of plan for marijuana taxation reported

An attendee wears a '420' necklace at Hempfest on April 20, 2014, in Seattle, Washington. Seattle Hempfest is an annual event for the purpose of educating the public about the benefits of marijuana and advocating for its decriminalization.
An attendee wears a '420' necklace at Hempfest on April 20, 2014, in Seattle, Washington. Seattle Hempfest is an annual event for the purpose of educating the public about the benefits of marijuana and advocating for its decriminalization.
Photo by Meg Roussos/Getty Images

The legalization of marijuana for personal use in Colorado and Washington and moves by other states to legalize or liberalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes has prompted new research that intends to be health oriented. Beau Kilmer and Rosalie Liccardo Pacula of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center published new research that is aimed to prompt legislators to consider the effects of marijuana legalization on the health of United States citizens. The research was published in the April 22, 2014, issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The researchers indicate that the most appropriate measures to control the use of legal marijuana should follow the patterns established through the experience in controlling alcohol and tobacco at both the state and federal levels. The intent of the study is to get ahead of the game in terms of health and taxation as the United States seems to be headed for legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes as well as medical use. The researchers recommend the same approach to marijuana as has been used for tobacco and alcohol.

The researchers urge lawmakers to consider if marijuana should be sold in any venue or limited to specialty stores like liquor stores. The study also initiates the discussion of how marijuana should be taxed. Potential tax methods for marijuana are suggested based on the amount of psychoactive ingredients, per unit weight, and other methods. The researchers also request that lawmakers consider licensing of the growth, sale, and distribution of marijuana and question the applicability of different licensing structures that are in effect another tax.

We can look forward to an entertaining and lengthy debate at both the state and federal level as the legalization of marijuana becomes a taxation issue. Once the most staunch anti-marijuana legalization legislators get an idea of how large the tax revenue from legal pot sales will be they may change their tune. The marijuana legalization issue will certainly mean an increase in the number of government jobs at all levels of the bureaucracy. The ATF may well become the ATFM (M for marijuana) within the next decade.