Washington Lawmakers Propose Raising Taxes on Higher Potency Weed

The bill would tax cannabis based on THC percentage in Washington state.
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Cannabis consumers in Washington state may soon be subject to a “dank tax.” 

Lawmakers there have introduced a bill that would tax marijuana products based on the percentage of THC.

In other words: the stronger the weed, the higher the price.

“Research indicates that between 12 and 50% of psychotic disorders could be prevented if high potency cannabis products were not available,” said Washington state House Rep. Lauren Davis, one of the sponsors of the bill, as quoted by local news station KXLY.

Davis believes that the measure is necessary to combat what she describes as a “crisis.”

“If we fail to act now to counter the emerging public health crisis created by high potency cannabis products, we will soon have another epidemic on our hands,” Davis added.

The legislation, House Bill 1641, would restructure “the 37 percent cannabis excise tax to a tax of 37 percent, 50 percent, or 65 percent of the selling price, based on product type and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration,” according to an official legislative summary of the measure. 

“[Thirty-seven] percent of the selling price on each retail sale of cannabis-infused products, useable cannabis with a THC concentration less than 35 percent, and cannabis concentrates with a THC concentration less than 35 percent,” the summary read. “[Fifty] percent of the selling price on each retail sale of cannabis concentrates and useable cannabis with a THC concentration of 35 percent or greater but less than 60 percent; and 65 percent of the selling price on each retail sale of cannabis concentrates and useable cannabis with a THC concentration greater than 60 percent.”

HB 1641, which had its first public hearing last week, would also establish the following, per the legislative summary:

“Marketing and advertising prohibitions on advertising a product that contains greater than 35 percent total THC … Prohibits cannabis retail outlets from selling a cannabis product with greater than 35 percent total THC to a person who is under age 25 who is not a qualifying patient or designated provider … Requires cannabis retailers to provide point-of-sale information to consumers who purchase certain cannabis products and requires the Liquor and Cannabis Board to develop optional training for retail staff … Requires mandatory health warning labels for cannabis products that contain greater than 35 percent total THC … Requires cannabis products to be labeled with the number of serving units of THC included in the package, and with an expression of a standard THC unit in volume or amount of product … Directs $1 million annually from the Dedicated Cannabis Account for targeted public health messages and social marketing campaigns.” 

Not everyone is on board with the proposal, which has a dozen sponsors. 

Carol Ehrhart, who owns a dispensary in the state, told KXLY that the proposed tax increase could lead to some adverse consequences. 

“There’s this, you know, idea that the THC is going to get me further along. The higher that we make those prices, the more apt someone is to buy the higher priced item because they think they’re getting more bang for their buck when they’re really not,” Ehrhart told the station.

“A product that we’re selling right now for $40 that’s over the 60% threshold would go to $47, almost $48. You know, that’s seven or $8 in taxes on one piece of product,” Ehrhart added.

Washington became one of the first two states to legalize recreational cannabis in 2012, when voters there approved a measure that legalized possession and paved the way for a regulated market. (Colorado also approved a legalization measure the same year.)

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2 comments
  1. WTF?
    How is it that such ignorant shite spews from the mouth of elected representatives?
    ““Research indicates that between 12 and 50% of psychotic disorders could be prevented if high potency cannabis products were not available,” that’s one scientist’s estimate ignoring the epidemiological SCIENCE showing no increase in the rate of psychosis since the 60s, even though a massive increase in cannabis consumption has occurred.
    Yes i will admit there’s a link between cannabis and psychosis (the science is clear), but what the evidence shows is that cannabis use increases the risk in susceptible people particularly if they consume it heavily BEFORE age 16 (when the cannabinoid receptor system is finished being formed), but does not CAUSE psychosis – in fact at least two genes have been discovered in those susceptible people which interact with cannabis to promote psychosis.
    Getting back to THE POINT: Since when does the potency of something mean you always consume the same amount. In fact, as any regular user works out, ‘potent’ weed actually means you have to consume less to get the same desired effect (THC is actually biphasic in its actions, so while a minimum dose reduces anxiety in rats and humans; increasing the dose actually often raises the anxiety level i.e. THERE’S AN OPTIMUM DOSE FOR THE BEST ‘HIGH’.
    Lastly I’ll use the PERFECT analogy of Alcohol (Ethanol) – the fact that distilled spirits (‘strong’ alcohol) are sold alongside beer and wine does not mean there’s more alcoholics in society experiencing Alcoholic Hallucinosis and/or the Delerium Tremens (alcohol withdrawal syndrome which can include a psychotic hallucinatory state).
    Biology as well as Pharmacology are never simplistic and should never be viewed as such.

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