California Marijuana To Cost Just $1 Per Gram After November Ballot

Guy Bentley | Research Associate, Reason Foundation

One of the nation’s leading experts on marijuana and criminal justice fears California’s ballot to legalize marijuana could result in plummeting prices and rising rates of marijuana disorder.

Professor Mark Kleiman, an adjunct scholar at the Center for American Progress excoriates the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which qualified for a November ballot June 28.

The bill allows commercial legalization of marijuana and six plants per household, with no limits on the quantity produced but a ban on sales and advertising to minors. California would impose a $9.75 tax (33 cents per gram) of flowers and a 15 percent sales tax on the retail price on top of the state’s regular sales tax.

Kleiman writes that the 62-page bill would fall well short of providing marijuana for moderate adult use while limiting the growth of cannabis disorder and preventing a rise in teen use.

“The key provisions in terms of preventing substance use disorder are the ones dealing with production, taxation, and marketing. All of those provisions favor the expansion of the market at the expense of public health,” writes Kleiman. (RELATED: Study: Biggest Fear Of Legal Marijuana Critics Goes Up In Smoke)

“Unlimited production guarantees that farmgate prices will settle down at something below $1 per gram; add to that 33 cents in excise and a 15 percent sales tax, and the result will be prices  substantially lower than those in Washington State, where some stores now offer highly potent cannabis (claimed to be 18 percent THC by weight) for $95/ounce.”

According to Kleiman, the dramatic fall of marijuana prices over the past 20 years is closely related to increase of marijuana disorder, which affects around four million Americans. (RELATED: Study: Teen Marijuana Use And Crime Collapses As States Legalize)

“If someone wanted to write a law to increase the prevalence of that problem, it would look a lot like the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. In other words, this is horrible, awful, very bad, no-good drug policy,” says Kleiman. But Kleiman concedes the bill is better than Proposition 19, which failed to pass in 2010.

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