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I have said this since I figured out prohibition dynamics decades ago.

Marijuana is as expensive as it is solely because of prohibition and the dedicated, relentless enforcement by the police, and for no other reason.

All the people gushing about how re-legalized (it was legal until 1937 when some powerful white racists freaked out about it) marijuana would be some sort of massive tax influx are simply wrong.

It's all after the jump.

Study: If California legalizes marijuana, prices could drop up to 80 pct.

A study released Thursday by the Rand Corporation claims that marijuana prices in a post-legalization California could drop by up to 80 percent, placing some of the most delicately cultivated buds in the world at less than $40 an ounce.

Marijuana, the flower tops of cannabis sative or indica, is expensive because it is illegal.

The enforcement of marijuana prohibition makes marijuana production, transport, and sales very risky and risk determines the price. Marijuana sellers who make large sums of money from selling have the police to thank for their profits. Likewise, we have the police to blame for marijuana being so outrageously expensive.

Every marijuana bust, every marijuana arrest, every person languishing in jail just because of marijuana possession helps keep marijuana prices high because that is law enforcement actively increasing the risk every day.

Once marijuana is legal again the price will absolutely plummet.

However:

State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has been pushing forward with a bill that would legalize marijuana state-wide and place a $50-per-ounce tax on all sales. He estimated tax revenues on sales alone would come to $1.5 billion in the first year. Rand researchers estimated a tax boon ranging from $650 million to $1.49 billion.

Marijuana is already taxed. I suppose a lot of readers are still unaware of this. The tax is exactly how marijuana is illegal. You can possess marijuana IF you have a tax stamp. The government refuses to sell the tax stamp so anytime you touch marijuana you violate the Sacred Law.

A $50 per ounce tax will most likely help perpetuate the black market dynamics as some will still sell without the tax stamp to reap the tax portion of the profits. Taxation becomes prohibition at a certain point. We see this with tobacco: when the tax is too high, people start stealing it and black market trafficking begins.

Again, I do  NOT expect relegalization to be that big of a tax boon. It's going to be an important revenue stream for states wise enough to implement it, but it won't solve the budget crises found in numerous states that is due to the financial shenanigans and crimes of this country's financial powers.

Relegalization WILL result in vastly decreased law enforcement expenditures when the police stop arresting somebody every 42 seconds for touching marijuana. Since marijuana prohibition is such a massive law enforcement racket, we can expect to see police forces trimmed of unneeded police.

American police arrest over 800000 Americans each year for touching marijuana. That's more than all arrests for real crime (violent crime, rape, robbery - you know: real crime...) combined.

Once marijuana can be purchased at the local convenience store or supermarket - as it should be - we'll see a large number of police with less to do.People will get a pretty good idea how wasteful marijuana prohibition has been. They can't see it now, but they will.

Another major positive is listed here:

The study also found that as potential per-ounce taxes increase, the likelihood of customers switching to higher-potency alternatives becomes greater. It also said that a green-rush in California would spark price drops nation-wide and disrupt Mexican marijuana smuggling, which by most estimates accounts for the largest portion of the violent drug cartels' profits.

That, alone, is sufficent reason to end marijuana prohibition today, but American Law Enforcement insists on keeping its head up its ass and helping these cartels make lots of money from trafficking. Police efforts directly help the cartels.

The rest of that article deals with the other aspect of marijuana propaganda: the idea that once legalized lots more people will try it.

I am in the camp that says that's nonsense, that peopole who really want to smoke pot already do, as marijuana prohibition fails to eliminate the availability of the herb.

But some people BELIEVE that once it's legal, all sorts of people who never smoked it because it was illegal will rush out and blaze up.

"Past research provides solid evidence that marijuana consumption goes up when prices go down, but the magnitude of the consumption increase cannot be predicted because prices will fall to levels below those ever studied," a summary noted, citing Rand researchers.

"We cannot rule out increases of 50% to 100% or perhaps higher, but we just don't know," the study added.

I think that there will be a small minority of people who immediately rush out and try it.

I also think that over time, as people realize they have been lied to for 80 years about marijuana, more people will EVENTUALLY elect to try it. Many people will retain the propaganda-installed prejudices against mar-ju-wanna and never touch it. Some will blame Obama, and people in the know will laugh heartily, knowing Obama never had any intention of even talking about reform, let alone enacting anything.

The last note here is that State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is a Democrat who is doing the Right Thing™: Republicans are to blame for reefer madness. Republicans are to blame for why, in a modern era, marijuana is STILL illegal.

Democrats SHOULD and MUST be the ones to fix this egregious situation and reap the rewards and glory for the good decision it is. Dems should want to do this just to mess with republicans, make them alienate themselves further from Americans by continuing to regurgitate their wingnut propaganda talking points as the rest of the country wises up.

Originally posted to Toking Points Memo on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 04:38 AM PDT.

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