Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jun 2016
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2016 The Arizona Republic
Author: Patrick Tighe
Note: Patrick Tighe worked on the governor of Colorado's marijuana 
coordination team in 2014.


A store displays two identical TVs: One costs $575, the other is on 
sale for $533. Which do you choose?

I know this is a dumb question. However, this is the precise choice 
some Arizona residents will face if citizens pass the Regulation and 
Taxation of Marijuana Act - the state initiative seeking to 
decriminalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

Proponents arguing that Arizonans should vote for this initiative 
dangle before voters the prospect that marijuana, once "regulated 
like alcohol," will bring in massive tax revenues: between $40 
million and $113 million, as reported by The Arizona Republic, if the 
act goes into effect. But these estimates fail to account for the 
undercutting effect of Arizona's medical-marijuana market on the sale 
of recreational marijuana.

Unless Arizona does something to rein in medical marijuana taxation, 
it'll just be chasing smoke.

Under Arizona law, a person who obtains a medical-marijuana card can 
purchase 2.5 ounces of marijuana, which is taxed at only 6.6 percent. 
If passed, this new initiative will allow any person - with or 
without a marijuana-medical card - to purchase 1 ounce of 
recreational marijuana.

However, here's the kicker: Recreational marijuana will be taxed at 
the much higher rate of 15 percent. Although there is no substantive 
difference between medicinal marijuana and recreational marijuana, 
the act will effectively create two markets in which the same good is 
sold for two prices.

So, if you could purchase 1 ounce of marijuana at $533 or 1 ounce of 
marijuana at $575, what would you do?

There's no need to guess. Colorado has provided us with the answer.

Originally, Colorado predicted it would receive in 2014 aboutd $117 
million in tax revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana. 
However, the state had to downgrade its estimate again, and again, 
and again. In the end, Colorado received only $44 million in revenue 
from the sale of recreational marijuana in 2014.

The reason? Not enough of Colorado's medical-marijuana users 
purchased recreational marijuana.

Similar to what Arizona may do, Colorado taxes medical marijuana at 
just 2.9 percent while taxing recreational marijuana at 27.9 percent. 
Colorado's significant tax differential incentivizes 
medical-marijuana users to not purchase the more expensive 
recreational marijuana. What happened in Colorado will likely happen 
in Arizona if the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act is passed. 
Around 70 percent of all marijuana is consumed by 20 percent of 
marijuana consumers, who smoke at least once per day.

Any rational marijuana consumer who consumes this much marijuana 
would have long since gone out and obtained a medical-marijuana card, 
with complaints of "pain" and no other underlying medical condition. 
(In fact, 70 percent of all Arizona medical-marijuana users list only 
"pain" as the underlying medical condition.) With a medical-marijuana 
card in hand, why would any rational pothead give up purchasing pot 
at $533 per ounce for pot at $575 per ounce?

This is not necessarily an argument against the voter initiative.

Arizona can avert this tax-differential problem and still 
decriminalize recreational marijuana. One way to accomplish this is 
for state regulators to raise the sales-tax rate for medical 
marijuana to 15 percent. All that is required is foresight and action 
by Arizona policymakers to avoid the problem like the one Colorado.

Proponents for this act argue that we should regulate marijuana like 
alcohol. Because we don't tax the same types of alcohol at different 
rates, why should we do so with marijuana?

Unless the state properly incentives marijuana consumers who don't 
need medical marijuana to purchase recreational marijuana, we will 
simply be chasing a pot of gold.

Patrick Tighe worked on the governor of Colorado's marijuana 
coordination team in 2014. Email him at  follow on 

Your bias is showing in that the right should agree with the left, 
but the left should only acknowledge what the right says about gun 
violence ("Left and right must build trust to solve gun violence," 
June 19). How about being a bit more balanced in your editorial policy? Sedona

Incomplete release of shooter's call amounts to censorship

Government releases only a portion of the 911 call by the completely 
rational Orlando terrorist. This is government censorship at its 
finest and completely wrong.

There will be no future prosecution. Americans are entitled to the 
whole truth, nothing but the whole truth. The Orlando shooter is not 
a lone wolf, this not workplace violence, this act of war was not 
created by a video, but brought to you alive and dead by ISIS.

Painting Orlando in any other light other than an act of terrorism, 
is a government lie. To hear and judge this Mateen's sanity is ours 
and ours alone. No government whitewash today, Barrack and Hillary. - 
- - Sun City

Ridiculous penalty at U.S. Open suggests rule change is in order

Time to change the "ball moved" rule again! The USGA managed once

I believe the first time I was aware of the flag flying at half staff 
was when President Kennedy was assassinated. I always thought that 
that honor was reserved for Presidents and other high ranking 
government officials. I was wrong.

Now as I drive down Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. past the car dealers 
with their large flags flying in glory, it seems that more often than 
not the flag is at half staff. With all the violence permeating 
America these days I suggest we leave it at half staff permanently.

- - Scottsdale

It may be a dry heat but, boy, it's hot even by our standards

Of course we tell family and friends back East that we go from 
air-conditioned location to air-conditioned location here in the 
summertime. But, this is awful! - Litchfield Park

The myriad of reasons this appellation befits the Donald

Donald Trump is a master at dubbing his opponents (Lyin' Ted, Little 
Marco, Low Energy Jeb, Crooked Hillary). Those opposing Donald Trump 
have not even tried a retaliation in kind. Here is a suggestion: 
Donald the Duck (or, for

All of the major cable companies in this countries providing phone 
service block illegal robocalls except for Cox.

There is a service promoted by the Consumer Union called Nomorobo 
that blocks such calls automatically. I am a senior, thus a target 
for the scamming scoundrels that prey upon the elderly. I sometimes 
receive up to five calls a day.

Since I am on the National No-call List, it is clear that every one 
is a scam. I have spoken to Cox whose representatives refused to 
redirect my complaint beyond the initial agent I spoke to. Isn't it 
time to get rid of their franchise here? What rights do we as consumers have?

- -

It's summertime, folks; perhaps we should be exercising indoors

Due to the excessive amount of mountain rescues recently, I believe 
we should adopt a new slogan: Save a fireman . ... buy a treadmill. - 
Scottsdale Phoenix

The disappearing lessons of cursive have consequences

Please, Arizona Board of Education, teach this generation of our 
children how to write in cursive. In my 83 years, I have never heard 
of such a stupid plan, the idea not to teach writing.

How about when they have to sign legal documents?? This was brought 
to my attention when one granddaughter, after dropping out from being 
bullied in 7th grade, was sent to live with relatives in Virginia 
Beach, where they gave her a tutor to teach her to write her name. 
I'm sure they must have said, "Where are you coming from?"

It's no wonder we can't find an educated person to lead this country.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom