Porn. Weed. Mom. Apple Pie.

Due to projected budget shortfalls and a deteriorating economy, states around the country are looking for new revenue streams, including from taxes on quasi-legal and illegal products like porn and weed. Their proposals are being met with varying results.

“People came down on me like a ton of bricks,” said Mr. Miloscia, who proposed an 18.5 percent sales tax on items like sex toys and adult magazines. “I didn’t quite understand. Apparently porn is right up there with Mom and apple pie.”

Mr. Miloscia’s proposal died at the committee level, but he is far from the only legislator floating unorthodox ideas as more than two-thirds of the states face budget shortfalls.

“The most common phrase you hear from the states is, ‘Everything is on the table,’ ” said Arturo Perez, a fiscal analyst with National Conference of State Legislatures, who predicted the worst financial year for states since the end of World War II.

Nowhere is that more true than California, where Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a freshman from San Francisco, made a proposal intended to increase revenue, and, no doubt, appetite: legalizing and taxing marijuana, a major — if technically illegal — crop in the state. “We’re all jonesing now for money,” Mr. Ammiano said. “And there’s this enormous industry out there.”

(Huh, huh. Jonesing.)

Would legalizing weed work? And if so, how? Mark Kleiman presents an attractive idea:

I’m not a big fan of legalization on the alcohol model; a legal pot industry, like the legal booze and gambling industries, would depend for the bulk of its sales on excessive use, which would provide a strong incentive for the marketing effort to aim at creating and maintaining addiction…So I continue to favor a “grow your own” policy, under which it would be legal to grow, possess, and use cannabis and to give it away, but illegal to sell it. Of course there would be sales, and law enforcement agencies would properly mostly ignore those sales. But there wouldn’t be billboards.

[via Sully.]

4 thoughts on “Porn. Weed. Mom. Apple Pie.

  1. Scott March 2, 2009 at 12:39 pm Reply

    Actually some states already have laws that require tax stamps for MJ sales even though it is illegal. Many of those same states then produce very few if any stamps and then turn around and can charge folks with tax evasion when they bust them. Personally when stopped, I always tell the cops that he’s got it all wrong and that the stuff in the bag is oregano.

    • G.D. March 2, 2009 at 12:44 pm Reply

      Are they supposed to buy that you’re making a big-ass pizza?

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