California Marijuana licensees call for increased enforcement of marijuana laws.
If I was an economist I could probably discuss free markets to explain this, but I’m not. Licensed pot growers and retailers, in California, are complaining about the high cost of doing business. They are being undercut by the traditional, illegal, pot operations and loosing business. They want increased enforcement of marijuana laws.
The Los Angeles Times article included an interview with Javier Montes, owner of Wilmington pot store struggling to compete with a large illicit market unburdened by the taxes he pays as a licensed business.
“Because we are up against high taxes and the proliferation of illegal shops, it is difficult right now,” Montes said. “We expected lines out of our doors, but unfortunately the underground market was already conducting commercial cannabis activity and are continuing to do so.”
Montes, who received his city and state licenses in January, says his business faces a 15% state excise tax, a 10% recreational marijuana tax by the city of Los Angeles and 9.5% in sales tax by the county and state — a markup of more than 34%.
He says there isn’t enough enforcement against illegal operators, and the hard times have caused him to cut the number of employees at his shop in half this year from 24 to 12.
It seems that a 34% increase in costs to legitimize their business is a price that illegal distributors are unwilling to pay. Why would they?
Here is a bulletin for you; “The dope trade has nothing to do with dope.” Dope is a means to an end. Selling dope or being part of the dope trade is about accumulation of power, status, sex and money. This isn’t Hollywood where every dope dealer aspires to replace Tony Montana, aka Scarface. Most, in the trade, would be happy to afford a new pair of Nikes and an occasional blow job from a fat chick. Dope makes that goal attainable.
Call me cynical. I don’t believe for one moment that the legalization of drugs has anything to do with getting government out of people’s private lives. The movement has nothing to do with such libertarian notions. Legalization is nothing more than an attempt to tax an untapped revenue stream. Thirty-four percent of 471 million (marijuana sales proceeds) is not chump change.
You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. (No Obama didn’t coin the phrase, he stole it).