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Congressional Research Service Studies Legalizing Marijuana

Congress Marijuana

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a comprehensive report that examined the establishing of a wholesale excise tax on the production and sale of marijuana-related products on a federal level.

This comprehensive policy and fiscal report of how marijuana can be taxed and regulated nationally included enforcement concerns, discouraging youth use, choosing the base to tax (such as weight, potency, and price), restrictions, labeling, special tax rates, home production and medical marijuana.

CRS’s economic analysis indicated that marijuana prices would likely fall from current-day prohibition-influenced prices of approximately $200-$300 per ounce to potentially less than $20 per ounce. The economic modeling was based on a $40 billion annual US marijuana market that tested a $50 per ounce federal excise tax price point which would generate nearly $7 billion in federal excise tax.

Alcohol and marijuana’s external costs (i.e. taxation to equate with external costs of the drug use on society) were studied and researchers pegged alcohol’s external costs to the nation at $30 billion annually and marijuana’s at less than $1.6 billion, revealing that the federal government understands that alcohol is a much more harmful substance to society than marijuana.

NORML Executive Director commented on the CRS report:

“This CRS report on the prospects of the federal government taxing and regulating cannabis is another clear indication of the political saliency and fiscal appeal of ending cannabis prohibition at the state, and increasingly at the federal level (replacing the nearly eighty-year old failed federal policy with tax-n-regulate policies that are similar to alcohol and tobacco products). With four states and the District of Columbia since 2012 opting for legalizing cannabis, dozens of members of Congress from both major political parties—from states with legalization and those that pine for it—are getting serious about making sure the federal government does not lose out on hundreds of millions annually in tax revenue from the ever-growing cannabis industry in the United States.”