That is a mantra that always accompanies any discussion about legalizing pot. Americans seem to take it for granted that anything that isn’t necessary for survival is a luxury that should be taxed. If it involves a perceived vice, it’s almost as if guilt takes over and a subconscious need for punishment kicks in.
Colorado’s Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force seems to be taking this concept to heart. From reason.com:
The Denver Post reports that the task force wants marijuana to be heavily taxed. Amendment 64 calls for an excise tax collected at the wholesale level “not to exceed 15 percent prior to January 1, 2017, and at a rate to be determined by the General Assembly thereafter.” The task force says the initial rate should be the full 15 percent and recommends a special tax at the retail level on top of that, in addition to the standard state and local sales taxes. “Though the task force did not endorse a specific amount for the sales tax,” the Post says, “it gave a 25 percent rate as an example.” Both taxes would have to be approved by voters.
I can’t help but worry that if the drug war ever ends, the government will find a way of making legalization even worse than the drug war. High taxes may ultimately result in a black market for legal pot just as high taxes perpetuate a black market in alcohol and tobacco. It must be some kind of chicken and egg thing. Do people get stupid after becoming affiliated with government or do they have to be stupid to get into government in the first place?
Washington may have no one but itself to blame for the rise of the nullification movement – particularly the Obama administration, which has set the standard for ignoring the law.
Definitely not a flattering commentary on the federal government. going on to point out how Obama is increasingly leaning on the power of executive orders to bypass Congress and game the system around election time. Meanwhile, democrats continue their ardent support for Obama’s strategies because, as everyone knows, “it’s okay when our guy does it“.
Well, in this case it’s being referred to as neutralization rather than nullification. As I posted yesterday, Alabama is considering a bill that would attempt to thwart federal gin control laws. As this segment from Comedy Central’s Colbert Report shows, it’s not just Alabama (in fact Colbert doesn’t even include Alabama):
Of course, Colbert’s comments are anything but flattering to the concept of state nullification of federal law and he follows up with guest, Cliff Sloan, who once having been a clerk to Supreme Court judge John Paul Stevens, makes the very compelling case that federal law trumps state law and if you don’t believe that all you have to do is ask anyone in the federal government. Furthermore, only the federal government (the Supreme Court, to be precise) gets to determine whether a federal law is Constitutional. No conflict there, right?
Now, if you want to hear something intelligent and thoughtful on the topic, I suggest you might want to look at this 48 minute video of Tom Woods whose credentials are also quite impressive.
Don’t have the time? I know. I don’t either. So what I’ve started doing is loading up my MP3 player with podcasts and listen to them on the drive to and from work which for me is about 25 minutes each way. There are plenty of websites with podcasts to choose from, but not all content is in audio format. Videos seem much easier to come by, so I convert videos to MP3s. Free converters are easy to find on the web. Tom Woods, of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, is probably one of the most interesting libertarian lecturers around. He covers numerous topics, he’s an enthusiastic speaker, and he’s funny. I recommend him highly. If you’d like help finding video to MP3 converters, let me know.
“If a gun is manufactured in Alabama and it’s sold in Alabama, if there’s no interstate transaction, then why should the federal government be regulating it.”
The bill apparently attempts to short-circuit the Federal government’s view that the the Commerce Clause in the Constitution gives it jurisdiction over all human activity. This position has repeatedly been tested in court and upheld, so it is doubtful the Alabama law would stand up to challenge by the federal government.
But, if you’re familiar with the work of Tom Woods regarding nulification, you’re probably aware that such a law might prevent state and local law enforcement officers from participating in the enforcement of the federal law. The federal government has limited police resources and relies heavily on state cooperation. If enough states climb on the nullification bandwagon, the federal government would probably not be able to effectively enforce the law. We may soon see this in action as more states follow the lead of Washington and Colorado in legalizing recreational pot use.