Uruguay Understands You Can’t Tax Legal Weed If You Want to Undercut Black Market

only governmentUruguay is the first nation in the world that’s
embarked on the project of legalized and regulated marijuana. In
many respects, Uruguay’s legal marijuana market is
more tightly controlled
than those emerging in Colorado and
Washington. The government, for example, will be a primary
distributor of the product, and all users will have to register
with it.

But Uruguay’s government has had a moment of clarity, at least,
on the counterproductivity of taxes.
Via Reuters

Uruguay will exempt marijuana production and sales from
taxes in a bid to ensure prices remain low enough to undercut
competition from black market pot smuggled in from Paraguay,
according to consultants advising the government on a legalization

“The principal objective is not tax collection. Everything has to
be geared toward undercutting the black market,” said Felix Abadi,
a contractor who is developing Uruguay’s marijuana tax structure.
“So we have to make sure the price is low.”

Uruguay’s government is run by a
pretty leftist president
, but it seems to grasp this market
basic: a black market will persist so long as it can offer prices
lower than those in regulated markets.  Colorado and
Washington’s governments doesn’t appear to be there yet.

In both places, legal marijuana continues to be more expensive
than the stuff you can get on the street,
and it shouldn’t be a surprise
, while Washington is plowing
ahead with a legal marijuana system that imposes
command economics
on the drug, limiting the supply available by
statute rather than allowing it to be determined by demand. Small
wonder then that drug dealers
don’t seem too worried
about the “legal” competition.

For a more free market-minded approach to legal marijuana, look

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