General Question

rojo's avatar

What are some of the ramifications in the legalization of pot on a state level?

Asked by rojo (15971 points ) November 9th, 2012

If you live in Colorado or Washington and purchase marijuana from some legal and regulated source and if included in the price of the pot were state taxes that are destined to be utilized to finance some function or program of the state what are going to be the ramifications if you are arrested immediately thereafter by a federal agent on federal drug laws? Is the complicity of the state going to complicate the prosecution of the federal laws? Will you be able to claim that since the state receives revenue from your purchase it is therefore a legitimate purchase? Will the federal government be forced to prosecute the state as an accomplice in a drug transaction and if so, who within the state government will be required to pay the price? The Governor? The Attorney General? The Tax Assessor/Collector?

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21 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Federal law trumps state or municipal law.

rojo's avatar

@Tropical_Willie what will that mean to the state?

Seek's avatar

Let’s be realistic:

The feds have bigger fish to fry than the average Joe Stoner. The laws specify a couple of plants and no more than two ounces on your person at any time. It’s hardly a Colombian Drug Cartel.

There won’t be federal agents standing outside the 7–11 hoping to bust people buying a bowl or two worth of weed. There frankly isn’t much incentive to do that. And since the state law isn’t going to back up the feds, the local police aren’t going to be arresting the people and turning them over to the feds. So it’s a non-issue.

The positive effects are obvious: fewer people in jail for stupid reasons, which saves money. Tax influx, which is more money, and tourism revenue. LOTS more money.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@rojo The state of Washington legalized the sale of a Federally control substance. Pot is a controlled substance by federal law. It is a Schedule I item. Here is the Marijuana Resource Center: Federal Laws Pertaining to Marijuana

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Is right they Feds are not going to bust Joe Stoner. Selling the pot at 7–11 will cause the owner of 7–11 to be prosecuted as a drug dealer ( collecting taxes for the state is only interesting ).

Nullo's avatar

We might see this develop into a trend towards greater state autonomy.

bolwerk's avatar

Probably the major ramification is less money wasted on non-violent prisoners. Most problems with pot – and let’s not lie, there are a few – are better dealt with through public health initiatives than criminal courts.

rojo's avatar

But again @Tropical_Willie the state in complicit in the sale and distribution of a federally controlled substance. Will there not be “complications”?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Nullo They did that about 150 years ago. They had a war over states rights and other things.

@rojo The state is collecting taxes not sell the substance, I don’t think the state can be called complicit for taxing an illegal item.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Marijuana for medical use is already legal in Colorado. The DEA has taken a position that they will only bust dispensaries, caregivers, or others who are not in strict compliance with the local regulations concerning medical use of cannabis. I suspect that as more states follow in the steps of Colorado and Washington, the Feds will take a similar stance with recreational marijuana as well.

The issue that affects will affect most entrepreneurs who want to break into the business is the law concerning banking transactions. Financial institutions who are Federally chartered or insured are prohibited by law from dealing with money from pot shops and clinics.

According to a former IRS agent (quoted in this Huffington Post article):

“If financial institutions are federally licensed or insured, they must comply with federal regulations, and those regulations are clear about conducting financial transactions with money generated by the sale of narcotics,”

This position by the banks, IMHO, will help keep the money local, in that these shops and clinics will have to use state or locally chartered banks or credit unions. There is even talk of a credit union being set up by and for the newly legalized marijuana industry.

(Edit for clarity)

rojo's avatar

They will also be “regulating” and controlling distribution through storefronts.

bolwerk's avatar

@Yetanotheruser: it doesn’t have much of an effect without the feds unbanning it, probably, but it does say the states don’t want to take responsibility for the money wasted enforcing it.

@Tropical_Willie: pretty sure, despite revisionist claims, most of that war was about the state’s right to let people own people.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I honestly think this whole thing is going to come down to a Supreme Court hearing.

Coloma's avatar

I wonder about interstate transporting regulations. How will “they” regulate buying in one state and then crossing state lines with the “product.” ? I wonder if the Ag. dept. will get involved too? Hey..I know, let Monsanto be the growers. lolol

Well…all I know is it’s Colomas Mary Jane massage Friday afternoon, replete with a home massage accompanied with a little special delivery via my massage therapist. Mmmm….that California Pizza kitchen roasted veggie, thin crust pizza is going to be SO good tonight! haha ;-)

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Personally, I think that this new development (states beginning to legalize marijuana) will have the effect of the feds backing off – not just in those states, but in all states.. It is already very unpopular that pot is illegal, and the people are showing the government that they are fed up with the authorities spending so much time, effort, and taxpayer money chasing Joe Stoner around.

bolwerk's avatar

@Coloma: they won’t. It remains illegal, until the federal government somehow says otherwise.

Coloma's avatar

It’s about time they leave the weekend Joe stoners alone while continuing to ramp up, rounding up, the Joe boozers. I was behind some drunk guy last night all the way home on my winding, narrow, 2 lane mountain roads.
The guy was ALL OVER the road…so scary, I don’t think I took a breath for about 10 miles!
No cell reception in these hills makes for lots of adventures sharing the road with the local, 100 pak of Coors lite a night types. Bah!

@bolwerk Gotcha’. ;-)

oratio's avatar

@Coloma
Lol yep, Monsanto might release RoundUp Ready bud now. But remember, it’s a weed killer.

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Nullo's avatar

I am reminded of that Arizona immigration law from a while back – the one that was identical to the federal law, and for which the feds came down like a ton of bricks for taking over their job that they weren’t doing. Seems to be a bit of a double standard.

@Tropical_Willie Yes, I know. You think that’ll happen again, instead of a gentle prying of fingers from the cookie jar?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Nullo My state has taxes on liquor for both state and federal govenments.

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