New Mexico Marijuana Info
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The report, which was produced by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee in September wasn’t made public, but the New Times was able to obtain a copy of it.
The report only takes into consideration the increase of potential taxes, but doesn’t account for the large amount of money that would be saved annually in Arizona by halting arrests, criminal prosecution and jailing of marijuana users. According to the New Times, “Phoenix police alone arrest about five people a day for possession of marijuana, with no other crimes alleged.”
The report was conducted in response to a bill proposed earlier this year that would have made marijuana legal for adults over 21 years old. It would have also made it legal to sell recreation marijuana in retail stores with a $50-per-ounce tax.
The bill died in April, but a similar measure may come back around in January. Regardless, Arizona voters are likely to see a legalization initiative on the ballot in 2016 coordinated by the Marijuana Policy Project.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a comprehensive report last week examining a wholesale excise tax on the production and sale of cannabis-related products by the federal government.
The report was one of the most comprehensive policy and fiscal reviews to date of how marijuana can and should be regulated and taxed. The CRS considered enforcement, restrictions, labeling, measurement, discouraging youth use, choosing the base to tax (i.e., weight, potency and price), special tax rates, home production and medical cannabis.
In the CRS’ analysis, they predict that cannabis prices are likely to fall to as low $5-$18 ounce, from the $200 – $350 prices per ounce in dispensaries today. Their economic modeling was based on a $40 billion annual cannabis market in the United States and they estimated the federal government could generate as much as $7 billion in federal excise taxes.
NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre commenting on the new CRS paper:
“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 fours 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.”
Virginia state senator Sen. Adam Ebbin has introduced a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under the proposal, the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would be decriminalized. Currently, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is punishable by a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
“The criminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana ruins far more lives than it impacts in any kind of positive ways. [The bill] would decriminalize simple possession of an ounce or less, but not decriminalize it to the extent done recently in Colorado and Washington state,” stated Ebbin.
In addition, the bill also would reduce the criminal penalties for distribution and possession with the intent to distribute and would also limit the forfeiture of property from the sale or distribution of 1 pound or more.
“This is not just a conversation starter; we need to pass this bill. We’ve been talking to many of the members. … I think there is general support for the core of the bill, which is removing criminal penalties for people who possess small amounts — even from Republicans.” said Edward McCann, policy director for Virginia NORML.
Three weeks after voters in Washington, D.C., overwhelmingly voted to legalize marijuana in the nation’s capital, the City Council approved legislation that charges D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) with regulating and licensing marijuana producers and retailers.
According to the legislation, the ABRA would have 6 months to write the regulations. After the regulations are written, they would begin accepting license applications so that recreational cannabis stores could open by 2016.
Licensing marijuana business was not included in Initiative 71, which legalized recreational marijuana. Instead, the licensing is part of a bill introduced last year by Council Member David Grosso. Not only does the bill would allow the ABRA to licensing marijuana businesses, but it also eliminate penalties for possessing two ounces or less of marijuana, for growing up to six plants at home, and for transferring small amounts to other adults without payment.
Grosso’s bill would combine medical and recreational marijuana into one industry regulated by ABRA. However it would also define different tax rates for medically prescribed marijuana (6%) and marijuana purchased for recreational use (15%). By comparison, Colorado collects a 15 percent excise tax AND a 10 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana. Washington state imposes a 25 percent tax at each of three levels.
So far only the sections of the bill which deal with licensing, regulation, and taxation, have been approved by City Council’s committee. The other 10 sections must be approved by two other committees before the bill can be considered by the entire D.C. Council.
A team at Washington State University is developing a breath test to test for marijuana to help law enforcement determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana. Currently no device exists to test for marijuana impairment using a breath sample. Officers and prosecutors have to instead rely on blood tests to determine how much active THC is present in a driver’s blood. Initially, the marijuana breath test probably won’t be able to pinpoint the level of THC in the body; it will only tell officers that some active THC is present.
According to WSU chemistry Professor Herbert Hill, existing technologies that are used by airport security to detect drugs can be re-purposed to test breath for THC. The handheld device will use a technique called ion mobility spectrometry to detect THC in someone’s breath.
“We believe at least initially that it would lower the false positives that an officer would have,” Hill said. “They would have a higher level of confidence in making an arrest.”
Officers would still have to obtain follow-up-test results to use as evidence in court, just as they do after a positive preliminary breath test for alcohol impairment in a DUI arrest.
Hill said he and his research team plan to finish laboratory tests with a prototype marijuana breath test this year, then start testing human breath between January and June 2015.