Regulate like alcohol? Tax like tobacco?

I end up sitting through a lot of discussions about taxing marijuana. Most of the reasoning has to do with paying for the high social costs of legalizing marijuana. Therefore, they say, we need a “sin tax” to compensate for all the damage marijuana will cause. Then I realized that there is no “sin tax” on alcohol. Yes, there’s an excise tax, but not a special sales tax for alcohol to compensate for the damage it causes to society. And we know it causes a lot!

Why not?

We know all about the dangers of alcohol. We’ve documented it! We know about drunk driving accidents. We know about fetal alcohol syndrome. We know about alcohol poisoning and binge drinking. According to the CDC, there were 25,692 alcohol-induced deaths in 2010, including accidents and homicides.
According to a recent Allstate Insurance Company study, alcohol impaired drivers are estimated to cost American taxpayers $21 – $24 billion dollars per year.

National Geographic recently stated that alcohol abuse costs American society $136 billion and 65,000 lives annually.

  • 40% of all suicide attempts are alcohol-related
  • 54% of all violent crimes are alcohol-related
  • 60% of all emergency room admissions are alcohol-related
  • 80% of all domestic disputes are alcohol-related

If the state of Colorado is going to impose a special sales tax on recreational marijuana of up to 15%, and localities like Denver and Boulder are considering their own special taxes, then that same tax should be applied to alcohol.

This is when they’d all rather regulate marijuana like tobacco than like alcohol. Is that what you voted for?

Categories: Business & Industry, Colorado, Driving, Policy & Politics, Stats

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