The smoke and mirrors of taxation, regulation

Marijuana-legalization proponents insist taxing and regulating the drug will keep all of the health, crime and other social problems associated with its use in check. What they’re not telling you is that any tax revenues collected from the sale of marijuana won’t come close to covering costs to regulate the drug or address problems caused by its use.

Consider:

Federal and state government taxes collected on alcohol in 2007 totaled around $14.5 billion – a pittance compared to the $185 billion in alcohol-related costs to healthcare, the criminal justice system and productivity in the workplace. In the case of tobacco, Americans lose more than $200 billion each year in the social costs of smoking — and collect only about $25 billion in tax revenues from tobacco products.

In Colorado, where medical marijuana is legalized, the state agency charged with overseeing dispensaries is overworked, understaffed and unable to keep up with its regulatory responsibilities. This only emphasizes why medical marijuana would strain Massachusetts’ state enforcement agencies and already limited resources.