Marijuana Tax Act & Michigan Legalization
Let’s have a talk about the Marijuana Tax Act. Parents, religious groups, and health gurus speak against the recreational use of cannabis in our culture. Their admonishments don’t compare to the real opposition against cannabis, which is legislative at its core. Politicians, political action and special interest groups, and many other organizations have used various levels of government to oppose cannabis. With laws passing in favor of recreational use each election cycle, these groups are turning to caveats and hindrances in attempts to check the growing freedom of cannabis. Why does this matter? Why should we stay vigilant? Regulatory hindrances and legislative caveats like the Marijuana Tax Act brought America to this point.
The year was 1937 when the Marijuana Tax Act passed. The law was a small step, yet a step somewhere on a draconian scale. It created a annual federal tax of $24 (worth $423 in 2018), with regulatory violations resulting in fines of $2000 (worth $35,000 in 2018) or a five year imprisonment, if not both. Violations may have been likely, since any type of transfer of cannabis, from one party to another, required strict documentation. Records and the parties themselves fell under scrutiny, and this scrutiny was a stiff e-brake on the industry.
Opposition did not stop after the passing of the law. 15 years later the Boggs Act of 1952 criminalized anyone in possession of cannabis. A sentencing gave the guilty a minimum of two hard years of incarceration. The initial goal in 1937 was to monitor cannabis distribution. What was benign in writing had huge costs in action. Interfacing with customs, IRS, taxes and keeping records created physical hassle, let alone financial. Professionals in the pharmaceutical space were caught in the crossfire, because of how common it was to prescribe cannabis. Industry shrunk with regulation, which was really the precursor to serious criminalization.
The examples of the past are present in today’s cannabis opposition. Tomorrow on December 6, 2018, the state of Michigan make it legal to buy, sell and grow cannabis for recreation. For Grand Rapids, Detroit and their neighbor cities, legalization is here. Given the history we are two steps of the opposition’s strategies. Some municipalities and communities, like St. Joseph, have plans to prevent cannabis retail. There are statewide and lower level government efforts to raise the tax rates or lower the tax rates on cannabis. These efforts may be pursued in hopes that voices against legalization will strengthen with lack of tax revenue benefits, the inability to grow a solid legal market or the comparison between jurisdictions allowing and prohibiting cannabis retail. So yes, cannabis adoption across the legal establishment is occurring but we must be aware and vigilant. Hindrances and caveats from the cannabis opposition remains just as aware and just as vigilant.
This article was written with the following references: