Recently, some Ford Fusions bound for Pennsylvania and Ohio were found to have smuggled cannabis packed into the spare tires. The total haul was over 400 lbs.
The newswires crackled with glee - - "Junk" in the trunk!" "Not what they had in mind when they advertised "Fords are dope".
Real knee slappers if it weren't so pathetic and short-sighted.
Let's do some simple math. The average price per ounce of cannabis in the US is $1,625 ("U.S. Cannabis Spot Index up 0.2% to $1,625 per pound"). Multiply that by 400 lbs. and you get $650,000. (CNN values this at $1,000,000 - they must be getting the good stuff :)
Now let's assume the legal Pennsylvania medicinal cannabis market is up and running (soon people, soon). The grower will pay 5% excise tax on medicinal cannabis (which would provide the state's general fund with $32,500 upon sale). Additionally, there will be quarterly corporate income taxes due by the grower and the dispensary (federal and state). There will also be wages (and income taxes) for employees at the grow and dispensary (taxes and fees on a $50,000 salary in PA would be about $11,000). Add some indirect spending for packaging and branding, property costs, utilities, transportation, additional induced spending in the community... Let's call the real value of 400 lbs. $50,000 all-in.
What do the taxes accomplish? Well in Colorado, for example, cannabis taxes are used for school infrastructure, special education, public safety, anti-bullying programs, etc. So... $50,000 for all these good things... LOST!
Why? Because this smuggled cannabis will be destroyed. So the benefits: taxes, jobs ... LOST.
The medicinal cannabis needed by suffering patients ... LOST
And the expense and time of trained law enforcement looking in the trunks of cars instead of looking for murderers and rapists.... LOST.
And why? Because cannabis is on Schedule I of the DEA Controlled Substances List. (To quote our favorite truth-telling renegade Jesse Ventura, "... just because something is illegal, that doesn’t mean it goes away, it just means criminals now run it."
So the next time you read about 400 lbs. of seized cannabis, don't think "Junk in the trunk" Think of what we're all losing by supporting the black market by keeping Cannabis on Schedule I.