Black Market, Taxes Reasons for Recreational Marijuana Sales Delay
Senator Michael Rodrigues (D) of the 1st Bristol and Plymouth District appeared on WBSM's "The Barry Richard Show" on Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics relating to the new session of the state congress, including state lawmakers' decision to push back the sale of recreational marijuana six months, to July of 2018.
The biggest reason to hold off on recreational marijuana sales, according to Rodrigues, was finding a tax plan that works. As currently constituted, the marijuana tax would only be a 3.75 percent excise tax on top of a 6.25 percent sales tax, totaling a 10 percent tax--far below other states that have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana.
Rodrigues called the current proposed taxation "woefully inadequate."
"Colorado is at 32 percent, Washington State is at 40 percent," Rodrigues said. "We need to look at exactly what it will cost to regulate and administer the law, and establish a tax rate so, at least if nothing else, we break even, so we're not taking money away from other services."
Rodrigues said another concern is the impact the sale of recreational marijuana will have on the black market, something he discovered was a huge problem during his visit to Colorado as part of an eight-member panel last January.
"In Colorado, street value was around $125 per ounce, and after it became legal on the open market it was getting $210-$250 an ounce, almost double the price," he said. "The black market just raised its price to be a little bit under (the legal price), and they actually prospered."
Another concern for Rodrigues was the fact that the technology does not yet exist to test for the amount of THC in a person's blood through a method similar to a breathalyzer, making it hard to enforce laws regarding driving under the influence of marijuana.