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High Marijuana Taxes Means Black Market Will Continue

January 3, 2020 Crime, Featured, Metro East, Recreational Marijuana Comments Off on High Marijuana Taxes Means Black Market Will Continue

I’ve long supported the legalization of marijuana. No, I’m not a regular user — my last time was in the Fall of 2017 to deal with severe pain after breaking my wrist.

I just think legalization is good public policy. Criminalization was horrible public policy.

In the 1930s, Prohibition was repealed in the middle of the Great Depression. Straight-laced bureaucrats looking for another target turned their attention to marijuana, which, at the time, was mostly being used in the Mexican and black communities. They painted the drug—and the communities using it—as a threat to the already crippled country and began the process of banning it. Twenty-nine states had outlawed marijuana by 1931, and in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, essentially making the plant illegal in the United States. (History.com)

So some bureaucrats wouldn’t be out of work during the Great Depression they used race to get marijuana criminalized! Eight plus decades later 11 states have legalized recreational use. It was 6 years ago that Colorado became the first, Illinois became the 11th on January 1, 2020.

On the first day of legal sales in Illinois the line at HCI Alternatives in Collinsville stretched hundreds of feet around the corner.

Illinois needed to legalize, for the tax revenue.

It depends on the amount of THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. In flower form, there will be a 10% tax. Edibles are taxed 20% but jumps to 25% if the THC levels are above 35%.

In most states that have legalized recreational weed, it’s typically 30-50% more expensive than illegal weed. (CBS Chicago)

That’s the part I’m struggling to get past: 30%-50% more expensive than illegal weed. The cash cow to help state budgets is keeping the black market alive.

In the United States, high tax rates have been effectively driving consumers to purchase black market marijuana.

California, for example, is taxing the daylights out of its pot buyers. In addition to passing along a state tax and local tax, buyers are paying a 15% excise tax, as well as a wholesale tax of $9.25 per ounce of dried cannabis flower, or $2.75 per ounce of cannabis leaves. Add this up, and it could work out to an aggregate tax rate of 45% on legal pot. And, mind you, this doesn’t include additional costs such as the laboratory testing on weed grown in the Golden State, which is also being factored into the price that consumers pay. (Motley Fool)

Taxes on alcohol & tobacco are higher than things like, say, toilet paper. That’s fair, I suppose. Yet there’s no black market for those, at least not that I’m aware of.

Food trucks filled the parking lot to sell food & beverage to those who waited in line for hours to buy legal cannabis.

Will the legal and illegal markets continue side by side? Maybe that’s a good balance? I need to let go of my expectation that legalization will lead to the end of the black market.

On the other hand, the black market does a poor job supplying quality concentrates & edibles.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Red-Light Cameras Return To St. Louis?

November 24, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll, Transportation Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Red-Light Cameras Return To St. Louis?
Please vote below

Last week we heard the city is interested in bringing back red-light cameras:

We haven’t seen red-light cameras in St. Louis for a few years, but now the city is considering bringing them back — and the tickets that come with them.

“We’re looking for a tool that can help us save lives,” Director of Operations Todd Waelterman said.

He said police are short-staffed and have too much on their plate, so they’re exploring other options to make the streets safer. (KSDK)

This is the subject of today’s poll.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. More information, my thoughts, and results Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis’ Newly Bill Requiring Reporting of Those Who Fail a Gun Background Check

November 6, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on St. Louis’ Newly Bill Requiring Reporting of Those Who Fail a Gun Background Check
Grand Theft Auto’s gun store Ammu-Nation

I thought the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll would at least get the usual number of responses, but it got way less.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis’ new background check bill (#106) is a waste of time & money.

Strongly agree: 2 [15.38%]

  • Agree: 2 [15.38%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [7.69%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [15.38%]
  • Disagree: 4 [30.77%]
  • Strongly disagree: 1 [7.69%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [7.69%]

The few gun retailers in the city will need to report to the St. Louis Police when an applicant has failed a firearm background check.

”A waste of time & money” was the most frequent criticism I read last week. Given how few gun stores exist in the city and only about 1% fail a gun background check, I don’t see this is a big issue.

”Criminals don’t buy guns” is another I heard. For this I turned to Politifact:

[U.S. Rep] Faso said “The vast majority of crime that is gun related is committed by people who illegally are possessing that firearm.”

People can differ on what constitutes a “vast majority.” What’s more, illegal gun crime is not well researched in the U.S. The latest data is more than a decade old. One analysis of the data showed Faso’s claim is not true in some states while true in others. But experts say most gun crime is likely committed by those who illegally possess guns.

His statement is accurate but needed additional information. We rate it Mostly True.

So this likely won’t reduce crime in St. Louis. However, since 1982, 74% Of mass shooters obtained their guns legally. So there’s potential the St. Louis Police may get the name of someone who failed a background check — if they could’ve bought a legal gun they might’ve committed a mass shooting.

The fact is we’re not going to ever know the effectiveness of this new bill. However, we do know that few who lie on their application are prosecuted — even though that’s a crime.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: St. Louis’ New Gun Background Check Bill Good or Bad Legislation?

November 3, 2019 Crime, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: St. Louis’ New Gun Background Check Bill Good or Bad Legislation?
Please vote below

Friday the St. Louis Board of Aldermen sent a bill to Mayor Krewson, who’s expected to sign it.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen passed a bill that requires licensed gun dealers to tell police if someone trying to purchase a gun fails a federal background check.

Bill 106 is a public safety legislation for failed background checks for firearm purchases. According to the Board of Aldermen, the City of St. Louis has become the first city in the U.S. to pass such a law.

The bill, sponsored by President Lewis Reed, will establish reporting requirements for licensed firearm dealers. The legislation requires the dealer to report when a firearm purchase is denied from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. The new law will prohibit people who attempt to buy guns and fail the background check from creating a serious public safety threat. (KSDK)

Board Bill 106, introduced on September 13th, can be found here.

To come up with today’s poll question I read lots of comments on  articles about this posted on news site Facebook pages. Yes, the poll question isn’t the same as the headline.

As always, this poll will close at 8pm tonight. My thoughts, still unclear to me at this point, and the results Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

 

We’ve Got To Be Smart On Crime, Not Hard Or Soft

September 25, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on We’ve Got To Be Smart On Crime, Not Hard Or Soft

The phrase “soft on crime” has a long history of being used to encourage the public to support the “lock them up and throw away the key” view of criminal justice…more accurately injustice.

The 1990s panic over youth and gang violence had us characterizing juvenile offenders as “superpredators” who were beyond redemption. The popular slogan “adult time for adult crime” echoed a “get-tough” approach for punishing kids. Recently, however, the U.S. Supreme Court abolished mandatory life sentences for minors. And policy makers have recommitted to the original philosophy of juvenile justice, prioritizing the needs of young offenders rather than what punishment is deserved.

The 1990s also saw the rapid spread of a penal policy patterned after a well-known baseball refrain — “three strikes and you’re out.” This metaphorical approach to sentencing felons helped nearly bankrupt many states, especially California where “three strikes” was most enthusiastically adopted.

Thousands upon thousands of Americans were taken prisoner in the “War on Drugs” declared in the early 1970s when crime rates soared. Having surrendered this misguided campaign, the nation is now looking more toward treatment for addicts than punishment, and releasing nonviolent drug offenders from prison. (USA Today)

Fearing being labeled as “soft on crime” conservative Democrats, aka neoliberals, fully embraced tough on crime policies. This allowed them to work with Republicans to pass bipartisan legislation.

Cover of ‘Time’ magazine, February 7, 1994

This led to innocent men, mostly African-Americans, being incarcerated. Mass incarceration is now a major problem. Families were torn apart. Persons who served their time returned home to find they couldn’t get a job or housing. Recidivism was inevitable.

We screwed up…for decades.

St. Louis is a Democratic city, but mostly of old school neoliberal conservative Democrats. So the fact a majority of respondents to the non-scientific Sunday Poll think think our first black prosecutors has led to a sudden spike in violent crime shouldn’t surprise me.

Q: Agree or disagree: Violent crime is increasing in St. Louis City & County because our new prosecutors are soft on crime.

  • Strongly agree: 14 [48.28%]
  • Agree: 4 [13.79%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [6.9%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Disagree: 5 [17.24%]
  • Strongly disagree: 4 [13.79%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Long-standing policies, not new prosecutors, are responsible for our violence. Smart solutions don’t look like the old, but now problematic, one. St. Louisans must learn to embrace change if we’re ever going to make progress in addressing our problems.

— Steve Patterson

 

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