Let's talk about cannabis...
When I was on KONA with Representative Mary Dye last week, beyond the fact she mentioned cannabis at all, I was not all that surprised to hear her say she wants to divert revenue from cannabis taxes to law enforcement to help them fight black market crime, which she perceives to be a larger problem post legalization. This couldn't be further from the truth, nor could escalating the War on Drugs be a more counterproductive thing to do for our communities!
When legalization was on the ballot, the voters were clear that they wanted the taxes used for education, health care, research, and substance abuse prevention. It’s bad enough that the Legislature has dumped cannabis revenue into the general fund rather than directing it to these specific purposes as intended. Using that revenue to beef up law enforcement instead would add insult to injury.
The truth is, the excise tax of 37% is the highest in the nation, and that's on top of local sales taxes. And to make matters worse, thanks to federal law, no one in the industry can write off any of their business expenses! The farmers in particular are struggling to be profitable and taxes have driven some of the larger businesses out of the state, taking hundreds of jobs with them. Washington State prides itself on being an attractive state to do business, but when it comes to the cannabis industry, we're losing out to more competitive states like Nevada and Colorado. We're also the only state with legal recreational marijuana that doesn't offer permits for consumption in public lounges, yet another lost opportunity for local businesses.
Another problem: when recreational cannabis became legal, medical marijuana home delivery services that had existed for years became illegal. Now, no matter how sick they are, a person must go into a brick and mortar store to register as a medical patient, so too often, truly sick people can’t register at all. The hardship is just too great. One person told me of a terminally ill woman who had to be taken to a store by private ambulance and wheeled in on a gurney by her primary care provider so she could register as a patient. And patients still have to pay the 37% excise tax! The only benefit to being a patient now is the sales tax is waved. Most medical patients don’t even register because it’s too difficult and there's no real benefit when it's not much cheaper.
Send me to Olympia, and I will propose legislation that would dramatically reduce excise taxes so that our farmers, the people who tend the soil of our country, can keep more of their money, earn a decent living, and create more jobs that stay here in Washington State. Furthermore, I will propose reforms to the tax system that adequately fund the Liquor and Cannabis Board so that it can service the industry. Right now, hundreds of businesses are supported by just two or three LCB staff members! The largest complaint in the industry is that their own regulators are absent. I will also propose legislation that permits recreational consumption in lounges. And I will propose legislation that would allow for home registration and delivery for medical patients. And I think we can do better by patients than simply eliminating the sales taxes, especially if the excise taxes are going to remain so high!
When it comes to cannabis policy, elect someone who deals with reality, not ideology, someone who listens to consumers, the people in the industry, and the will of the voters of the State of Washington. Help me get to Olympia by donating to or volunteering for my campaign today! And please remember to vote for me this November.
In the meanwhile, you can sign this petition to let Representative Dye know that you do not support diverting cannabis revenue to law enforcement and that you would like it to be used for its intended purposes instead. Share with all your 420-friendly friends!