Don't be fooled - Marijuana legalization is not about advancing social justice

Don't be fooled - Marijuana legalization is not about advancing social justice

Advocates frequently argue that marijuana should be legalized as a source of new tax revenue. But considering that most marijuana is smoked by low-income individuals, such a tax would be regressive in nature. Increasing harmful consumption taxes on poor communities does little to advance social equity.

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I spent a night in the NJ marijuana black market. The illegal weed business is booming.

I spent a night in the NJ marijuana black market. The illegal weed business is booming.

While legislators debate the details of NJ marijuana legalization, the black market is bigger than ever. we spent a night at a marijuana "pop-up" and saw chocolate bars and brownies, oils and vape cartridges and huge jars of illegal weed.

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10 Things We Know (As In, Actually Have Published Evidence For) About Cannabis And Health

10 Things We Know (As In, Actually Have Published Evidence For) About Cannabis And Health

Ten years ago, when you referred to cannabis, you were talking about dried plant material that people smoked,” says Ryan Vandrey, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“Now, cannabis — which refers to marijuana and hemp — is a blanket term that could also mean hemp oil, topical creams, CBD products, high-THC concentrates that are smoked, vaporized or orally ingested and more.”

And confusion abounds.

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Promises about legal weed benefits are false

Promises about legal weed benefits are false

In California, voters were sold the line that the state could collect upwards of $1 billion in revenue. The reality is the state has failed to bring in anywhere close to that mark — it fell 75 percent short of it through September. All this prompted outgoing California Gov. Jerry Brown to say, “I have not counted on any revenue from marijuana. Who’s counting on the marijuana revenue? People said that to make it more plausible for voters.”

So what’s the issue? It appears the black market is nimbler than anyone thought. In fact, it's growing stronger. One in five marijuana users in the state continue to purchase the drug off the street as opposed to buying it from retail stores. The situation is so bad that foreign cartels and criminal gangs are turning whole neighborhoods into pot-growing operations and even growing the drug on national lands.

And yet Big Marijuana — whose components now include Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco — keep claiming they can end the illicit trade of the drug through “regulation.”

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The poison pills contained in Prop 64

The poison pills contained in Prop 64

Despite promises that legalizing marijuana would kill the black market and tax revenues would fill state and local coffers. The black market is thriving, and the promised taxes are not being seen. The industry’s solution: they’re about to pass a bill to reduced excise tax on marijuana products from 15% to 11% and suspend the tax on marijuana cultivation (until Jun 1, 2021).  This should only come as a surprise to people who failed to read the text of Prop 64 where it says tax can be cut all the way to zero to ensure the industry is thriving.

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