Marijuana taxes

October 20, 2013
By

Jacob Sullum thinks proposed marijuana taxes will be too high. Mark Kleiman thinks they’ll be too low.

I’ll let you read the two competing pieces and see where you think reality will land. I haven’t studied the tax proposals enough to have a prediction. I will say that I’m not personally opposed to a cannabis tax, in large part because it’ll make it harder to reverse legalization once governments get a taste. But it’s important that taxes be low enough to encourage people to quickly switch to legal channels.

In trying to decide between the two, you can’t really be faulted for questioning the reliability of Kleiman’s arguments, given the petty and petulant way Mark deals with people who have a different opinion.

Once again, Mark trots out the tired and offensive “you must be smoking” ad hominem:

“Anyone who’s worried about the price of cannabis is spending far too much time stoned.”

[Update: Mark explains his use of this argument in comments. Though not obvious, I can see how it could be read that way.]

It’s a ridiculous argument device that he uses to a bizarre extent.

Later on, he tries to “refute” Sullum in advance by attacking libertarianism in general.

Naturally, true-believing libertarians insist that cannabis legalization be done in the way likely to generate bad outcomes. Taxes BAD! Regulations BAD! “Commercial speech” is SACRED! The free market FOREVER! And of course drug abuse is a merely imaginary problem, so cannabis is just an ordinary commodity that the market will handle perfectly.

Again, a common Kleiman technique – refer to differences of opinion regarding how policy will work as opponents’ desiring a bad outcome. I’ve never heard a libertarian say that drug abuse is an imaginary problem – they just disagree with Kleiman regarding the best way to deal with it.

The slogan at the “Reality-Based Community” is “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” What they don’t say is that Kleiman treats his opinions as if they were facts.

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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