“Tax and Regulate” refers to the terms and conditions under which the legalization of cannabis is established at the state level. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize the possession of cannabis in the United States. Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. took similar action in the 2014 mid-term election as did California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada via ballot initiatives in November 2017.
Taxation and regulation brings the marijuana industry into the legal economy, creating formal jobs and economic growth. Out of this growth comes new tax revenue. In the last fiscal year, Colorado received $130 million from marijuana sales tax, far exceeding the amount received from alcohol sales.
The regulation of marijuana establishes standards for its production, manufacturing, and distribution. It protects consumers from tainted supplies and gives them important information about potency and dosage. Regulation can also establish protective ecological measures for cannabis production, mitigating the adverse environmental impacts of illegal marijuana growth operations.
The next step is for states to move to tax and regulate by legislative action rather than a ballot initiative. In Vermont, both the House and Senate have voted to legalize marijuana and establish a commission to develop a regulated system in 2018; the bill awaits action by the Governor. There is strong legislative support for legalization bills in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Similar measures are possible in Illinois and Delaware next year.
Tax and Regulate In the News
Analysis: How Vermont could change the marijuana legalization game
Washington Post – March 30, 2016
Legal marijuana is finally doing what the drug war couldn’t
Washington Post – March 3, 2016
Marijuana Legalization 2016: Which States Will Consider Cannabis This Year?
International Business Times – December 30, 2015
The Case for Marijuana Legalization Just Got Stronger
Washington Post – December 16, 2015
Is Smoking Weed a Human Right?
The Atlantic – November 9, 2015
The Push for Legal Marijuana Spreads
New York Times – November 5, 2015
Facts and Figures: Majority of Americans Support Legal Marijuana
New York Times – October 21, 2015
Blog Posts on Tax and Regulate
Mass Incarceration and Criminal Justice ReformSeptember 20, 2017
Marijuana Legalization: Interpreting the EvidenceSeptember 20, 2017
CNDP Advocacy UpdatesJuly 11, 2017
Illinois Proposes Legalizing MarijuanaApril 12, 2017