Does Weed Have '5' On the Economy?

What could cure cancer, the economy, and put lovable handles on Michael Phelps? Hold that thought. On the bong I've got: Jason Mulgrew, Jeff Weiss, and Anonymous Hedgefund Dude. We are from the future.

A future where weed is legal, and we all walk around with mini-computers in our pockets.

I saw this Slate article breaking up the finer points of how the government can make money via the taxing of marijuana, and I thought, not a bad subject for a convo on Gawker. So let's get to it:

Sparking us up: Internet celebrity Jason Mulgrew who blogged his way into a tv development deal, then smoked his way back to blogging. Dude's a hero.

As a regular (some would say "heavy," others might say "awesome") marijuana user living in the only state in the Union run by a man who once got paid $10 million to ask a kindergartener "Who is your daddy and what does he do?," I, for one, am greatly in favor of the legalization and taxation of marijuana. Not because it might help my friend Amy, whose recent CA State unemployment check bounced. Nor because it might help my help Lauren, a dedicated teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District who almost certainly will be laid off in the next few weeks. And not even because I want to help out poor ol' way-in-over-his-head Arnold, who's learning that the California budget is an even more formidable opponent than the Predator (apparently the budget does not bleed; therefore, he can't kill it).

No, I am in favor of the legalization and taxation of marijuana because it would help me. Next time I'm sitting in my living room, stoned as fuck, awash in a sea of empty bags of Doritos and mesmerized by the same Tivo'ed episodes of "Wildboyz" that I've seen two dozen times before, I will not have that lingering feeling that maybe I'm not actualizing my full potential. Instead, I can stay seated where I am, content with the knowledge that with my legitimately purchased weed, I am doing my part to help save my state for a full-blown budget meltdown. A good American citizen, am I.

Now pass the Doritos – my favorite part is coming up. This shit is hilarious!

Dude, Doritos are so good they should totally be illegal! Word. Now we're gonna take two-and-pass it off to Jeff Weiss, regular contributor to the LA Times, LA Weekly and the editor of Passion of the Weiss.

Other than home prices in the smog-strangled Inland Empire east of Los Angeles, no other local product has plummeted in price more than marijuana. As both a lapsed Jew and a smoker, this is probably the greatest development in cultivation since the development of Novia Scotia salmon farms and Bialy bagel mass-manufacturing. The genesis for the supply and demand declivity is obvious: 1996's Proposition 215-which made it impossible to prosecute California physicians and patients who follow "guidelines in recommending or approving the medical use of marijuana."

On paper, this conjures visions of white lab coats and concerned medical professionals scrutinizing you for stress, neuroses, and anxiety-or Alvy Singer Syndrome, as I told the genial quack who wrote my "recommendation." In reality-as any cursory Google Search, perusal of the LA Weekly, or stroll down Venice Beach would tell you-marijuana is already essentially legal, with even the infirm and mentally feeble able to score.

In Los Angeles, the number of marijuana dispensaries currently approaches that of unemployed actors. They sell weed lollipops, weed cough spray, weed ice cream, weed brownies, and enough Hindu Kush to pacify Kashmir. Shit's like Roald Dahl meets Redman. The city is now feebly attempting to crack down on storefronts that illegally sprang up in the wake of a 2007 moratorium on new pot shops. Half my high school classmates have abandoned the train wreck that is California real estate for growing True Train Wreck.

In a time of fiscal crisis, the question of taxation is less a matter of legalization, but more common sense. Provided it hews closely to regular sales tax rates, states should be able to have their space cake and eat it too.

Ok. But we're all lowly blogger/writer types who are happily pelted with pennies as long as we can "live the dream". What about real people, with real money? Luckily, where I panhandle there's a hedgefund guy who loves to chat me up before telling me he doesn't have any change on him. He offers this from an investor perspective:

In California alcohol is taxed by the metric (gallon) and potency (proof). The reason California will have trouble doing the same thing with weed is that it is easier to grow weed for personal consumption than it is to brew alcohol or grow tobacco. It puts a whole new twist on Mrs. Obama's gardening self-sufficiency initiative. Any hope of a material revenue stream would have to be based on licenses for pot bars, other public smoking areas and possibly personal licenses similar to a driver's license. I'm not sure how much social appeal a bar full of stoned people has, but my guess is it's a niche audience once the novelty wears off. Even if a personal license is issued, by law pricing could not be economically discriminatory and it would be difficult to enforce civilian compliance. That means that the tax revenue is not likely to be a game changer for the California economy. Does every little bit help? On the plus side, it would require minimal new bureaucracy since similar licenses are already issued by the state and local governments. Additionally it would take away a very profitable revenue stream from criminals. On the negative side is the potential threat of unintended consequences. If marijuana is legalized in California, invest in seeds, Miracle Gro and tin foil.

Miracle Gro: Buy Buy Buy!

Well we can't leave a subject like this without consulting Redman, can we? What say ye, Redman?




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