Medical marijuana has been legal in California and other states for some time now, but Washington and Colorado are the first states to legalize recreational pot. Do they realize the tax problems that they will face in the future? The problems that medical marijuana dispensaries in California have faced time and time again are likely the same problems in store for Washington and Colorado, only on a larger scale. At the root of the controversy is the fact that the federal government still classifies marijuana as a controlled substance and they will not always turn their head the other way just because the people have passed a state ballot measure. One of the ways this emerges in the tax world is the “pot shops” are not allowed the same business expenses that other businesses would be allowed, so their tax bills are higher. At least in California, the IRS has made it clear that there will be no tax relief for pot shops as long as the federal government still sees the drug as a controlled substance.
Would a soda tax help reduce obesity? We won’t know now — soda tax measures were shot down in the California cities of El Monte and Richmond. Of course soda companies are filthy rich, and they spent an estimated $3.5 million to dissuade voters from passing tax increases on sugary beverages in these two towns. As with any controversy, there are often attractive arguments to be made on both sides, and the groups with the most money and power are normally better able to get their message out. At least that’s how the proponents of the soda tax see it. The opposition (“Big Soda”) sees a soda tax as harmful to small businesses and not the right way to fight obesity.