Friday, January 1, 2010

Taxation and Medical Cannabis

The other day I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a pot head. He is also a liberal and he seems to think that the government is an agent of good. I take the opposite view and believe the government is an agent of evil and even when they do good things they are still evil due to the process in which they had to utilize to achieve those means (theft, coercion, threats, etc.).

My friend was showing me his new medical marijuana patient card. Now just because he is a pot head doesn’t mean he doesn’t actually need medical marijuana, he had a serious accident last year that severed part of his hip and he could not walk for a long time and it still causes him pain. Not that I really care if a medical marijuana patient has an actual need or not, but I am trying to point out that his issue is legit and it was not someone just scamming the system. We started discussing medical marijuana and like me he believes that marijuana should be legalized, unlike me he doesn’t extend this belief to all drugs, but consistency has never been a strong suit for liberal democrats.

Then he said “we really need to start taxing medical marijuana”, of course I had to disagree. His basic point was that many of the medical marijuana dispensaries popping up here (Denver, the place with more MMD’s per capita than anywhere else in the nation) have not been welcomed with open arms into the neighborhoods they have graced and he believed that if they paid more in taxes this would put them in the good graces with their neighbors. I have to disagree here on many points. First of all paying taxes on the products sold has not generated warm and fuzzies for other stores selling controversial products, like sex toy shops, porno theaters and head shops. Secondly if the shops wish to give back to the community in an effort to create more community support, there are plenty of non-governmental ways they can do that, that would not only be more effective at generating local support, but the dollars they invest in such projects would be better spent and would do more to help than tax dollars would.

I also have an issue with burdening the poor and the sick, which medical marijuana already disproportionally burdens. First off, as far as I know there are no insurance companies that will pay for medical cannabis, so anyone who gets it will have to pay out of their pocket. Secondly, many medical cannabis patients are people with severe illnesses that make it difficult to work. There is no sales tax on other prescription drugs in the state of Colorado, so why would we carve out an exception for medical marijuana? It makes no sense to me that the government will admit that it is unfair and may even be cruel to tax a person taking oxycotin for pain but believe that it is perfectly okay to tax a person taking medical cannabis for pain.

My final objection to taxing medical cannabis is that the government is an organization that relies on violence to achieve its ends and its expansion should always be opposed. Why on earth should anyone advocate giving the “mafia with clipboard” more money and power when we know it will be used to inflict harm on people, whether through war, regulations, incarceration or other means? I am not sure what my liberal friend believes the additional tax money should go towards, but whether it is educating children, feeding the poor, or reducing harmful criminal activity, there are ways to do these things that do not involve the government, and there is never any guarantee that any tax money will be spent on any of these causes, once government gets tax money they tend to spend it however they want not how the tax payers want them to spend the money. I would say my friend should request that his favorite medical marijuana dispensary voluntary contribute to worthy causes in whatever fashion they believe would be the most effective and quit advocating coercive taxation as a way to endear the MMD’s to the community.

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