Massachusetts voters want it in writing that recreational pot, which nearly half the state’s adult residents hope will pass this November, won’t be unreasonably taxed.
Voters will address the issue on the ballot with Question 4, which proposes a 3.75 percent excise tax on retail recreational marijuana sales. This would be assessed on top of the state’s regular 6.25 percent sales tax, basically creating a 10 percent tax for consumers.
This puts Massachusetts’ pot tax rates much lower than most legal states.
Take Washington State with its 37 percent excise tax on pot sales or Oregon with 25 percent. Colorado imposes a 10 percent sales tax on pot products, but that’s on top of the state’s normal 2.9 percent sales tax.
While some state governments are seen as having gone over the top when it comes to taxing pot, many are putting that money to good use in their communities.
Proponents of Question 4, like Jim Borghesani, spokesperson for Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts, say that by keeping taxes relatively low, more consumers will choose to buy pot from legal outlets rather than on the black market.
“We want the tax to be low enough to be able to fund the regulation and the administration of the initiative, but also to undercut the illicit market,” Borghesani told Boston.com.
Critics argue the low tax structure won’t generate enough revenue to cover the regulatory and enforcement costs associated with legalization.
Then again, most of them are also against legalization, like State Senator Jason Lewis, a member of the anti-legalization group Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts.
Borghesani says opponents are exaggerating what it would cost to fund the state’s Cannabis Control Commission.
And we know it is always better to have individual states figure out their own tax codes when it come to pot sales. No one wants the feds involved that decision.
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