“High” Taxes

A large battle associated with the legalization of marijuana, in any market, is determining an appropriate tax rate. Appropriate taxation requires a delicate balance. The tax must be great enough to viably contribute to the many initiatives’ legislatures often set forward when legalizing cannabis. On the other hand, the tax must be low enough to incentivize buyers to enter the legal market, and, thereby, abolish the black market.

Minnesota Proposed Legislation

            The proposed bill in Minnesota for adult-use cannabis was led by Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. Within his proposed bill Winkler sets out a 10 percent tax on all retail and on-site sales of cannabis products, which is among the lowest tax rates in the country, following only Maine and Michigan.[1] Specifically, this is a retail excise tax. This is similar to the additional taxation placed on goods such as wine, beer, spirits and tobacco. For reference, the excise tax for alcohol in Minnesota ranges between 9-21 percent depending on the type of beverage. These are some of the highest rates in the country, with wine excise tax ranking the ninth highest in the country.[2]

            Unlike most states where cannabis taxation is deposited into a special revenue fund, Minnesota cannabis excise tax would be deposited into the state general fund. This raises questions such as: where the tax will go and how the Minnesota cannabis market and regulation costs would be financed. Winkler has taken the stance that making money for the state is not a driving factor for legalization; rather, that money would be used to fund the regulation of the market and help communities harmed by the War on Drugs. In an article with the Minnesota Post, Winkler stated, “We are not interested in this as a major source of revenue for the state of Minnesota to deal with education or road construction, things like that. We know that there is a harm to cannabis. But the amount of harm that cannabis creates is far exceeded by the harm we are creating with our current approach to it. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a harm.”[3]

Black Market

            While the proposed legal cannabis market has a variety of initiatives that are hoped to be funded through the taxation of cannabis, this will not be accomplished if buyers are not attracted to the legal market. The black market of cannabis is not a secret, for most people will admit that they or someone they know can acquire cannabis through the black market. The benefit to the black market is the price bargaining ability of the customer with the supplier, as well as a lack of taxation added onto the overall cost of cannabis. But this does not come without dangers. When using cannabis from the black market, the supplier, contents and quality of the products are completely unknown. In comparison, in markets where marijuana has been legalized, consumers are able to use cannabis with much more ease and confidence that the substance is as advertised. This allows quality control to ensure that the products are not laced with toxic substances such as those that caused vaping-related deaths in 2019.[4] 

[1] H.F. 4632 Art 2. Sec. 4; Current Version of Cannabis Bill (2020)

[2] MN Alcohol Taxation; Minn. Stat. § 297G. (2020) MN Alcohol Taxation Statute

[3] Minn. Post. “Expert Recreation Marijuana In Minnesota Could Bring in 300 Million in Taxes”

[4] Vaping Crisis in MN (According to CDC)

How does marijuana use affect child custody?

As a growing number of states legalize marijuana, marijuana use – even medical use – by a parent may be raised as an issue in child custody disputes. While a marijuana user may argue that their use does not impact their ability to properly parent their child, especially no more than one who consumes alcohol, courts will sometimes come to a different conclusion. Ultimately, the implications of marijuana upon child custody is a gray area, as a result of the fact that the drug remains illegal on the federal level and retains social stigma.

The ultimate goal of all courts in child custody cases is to make a determination that is in the best interests of the child. Common best interest factors that courts take into consideration that may raise the issue of marijuana use, are the “moral character” of a parent, or the “catch-all provision” (allowing courts to consider any other factor that they deem relevant when deciding the best interest of the child). Through both of these analyses, one’s marijuana use may be introduced to the court and significantly impact their child custody status. Although there has been shifting public opinion leading to the legalization of marijuana throughout the country, the stigma around marijuana use still very much exists. It is very difficult to break away from the stigma of “Reefer Madness” and “The War on Drugs.” These public attitudes infiltrate the courts and will not change overnight.

If you are a parent who uses cannabis, whether it is in a recreational capacity similar to drinking a glass of wine or if you use it for medicinal reasons, consider these recommendations to protect yourself and your child.

  • Do not leave drug paraphilia out in the open. Make sure your child does not have access.
  • Keep your cannabis products in a secure place. This is especially important if you use “edibles” because a child could easily mistake this for normal candy.
  • Limit your use around your children. Just as you would not want your child around secondhand cigarette smoke, the same is true for marijuana.
  • Know your limits. This is similar to alcohol use because you cannot be an effective parent when you are intoxicated, you cannot be an effective parent when you are too high.

By taking these precautions, you can maintain the safety of your home and limit the possibility that your cannabis use may cause a problem in a child-custody matter.