Grover Norquist Gives Pot Taxes a High Five

 

Grover Norquist must be really, really eager for marijuana to be legalized. So eager that he’s willing to throw his anti-tax pledge under the bus in order to help the cause:

 

Norquist tells National Journal that lawmakers who signed the pledge and want to legalize and tax cannabis are in the clear. “That’s not a tax increase. It’s legalizing an activity and having the traditional tax applied to it,” he says.

He compares legalization to changes in alcohol regulation, as when a state legalizes the sale of liquor on Sundays or allows grocery stores to sell beer and wine where they previously couldn’t. “When you legalize something and more people do more of it, and the government gets more revenue because there’s more of it … that’s not a tax increase,” he explains. “The tax goes from 100 percent, meaning it’s illegal, to whatever the tax is.”

This is sophistry, of course. If the only tax on legalized marijuana was the traditional sales tax that most states already have, Norquist would be right. But that’s not the plan in most places. Instead, there are special excise taxes just for pot, and those taxes are pretty high.

Of course, marijuana taxes have a few characteristics Norquist doesn’t mention that might explain the real reason he’s OK with them. First, they don’t hit rich people very heavily. Second, they target an activity that social conservatives disapprove of. Third, the taxes primarily hit the young, not the oldsters who hold the whip hand in the conservative coalition.

Still, any port in a storm. Thanks, Grover!

 

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.