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Could cannabis be regulated from a socialist approach?

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    Hello

    Excuse any naivety that comes across, I'm not trying to provoke a heated debate and I don't claim to be an expert on politics and tax, so apologies if my grasp is poor! Just something I've been thinking about.

    The majority of well-reasoned people seem to agree that legalising weed would be a good thing. We know it's significantly safer to both the user and society in comparison to the obvious legal, taxed drugs. We know a lot of people consume it and that criminalising it just means that it has to be bought from underground sources. I don't need to go into this too much as it's been done to death.

    Anyway, if weed was legalised, I'm guessing something like this would happen - it would be heavily invested into by capitalist companies and then taxed by the government, much like cigarettes, right?

    Hypothetically wouldn't we be better off bypassing this, and creating a publicly owned body to regulate sales? That is, approach it from a socialist way of thinking, so that ALL the profits (rather than just what is taxed) from cannabis sales could go back into the government and then used to fund healthcare, education, etc. This would be HUGELY beneficial.
    I'm not totally clear on this, but another (semi)advantage here is that the government would have a lot more control over how weed is priced, sold, distributed, regulated, etc; meaning if legalisation did turn out to be disastrous to society it could be more easily controlled, right?

    Again, my grasp on things like this isn't the best, and I'm aware of what giving control to a corrupt government can do, but assuming it was handled sensibly wouldn't it be beneficial to all sides?
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    You could apply this to literally any industry. You have to ask yourself why we have a market economy in the first place. Why are monopolies bad and why is perfect competition something to strive for? What effects do you think this would have on revolutionizing marijuana when there's only one player in the game? What happened when Microsoft was a monopoly? Or IBM?

    Your second advantage you listed is moot because the government can already and have done plenty of times set price regulation, distributions regulation, selling regulation (age for example) etc.
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    My fear off this would be that I could be used for political advantage. The interest of the party in control may be to maximize profits from the industry by selling cheap products to increase tax revenue whilst they may not care for the long term effects (more cancer, possibly schizophrenia) would be the concern of the party in control in several years time. If regulation was introduced to limit the amount one business with a set number of owners could sell, for example 3 shops per owner, and regulation against branding, this could stop massive corporations with the only intention of profit maximization from controlling the industry. For me the idea of buying some Marlborough bud is as terrifying as buying some with a Tory brand name, equally I don't like the idea of a large source of power holding an oligopolistic or monopolistic share of a drugs market.
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    (Original post by MightyMe.)
    Hello

    Excuse any naivety that comes across, I'm not trying to provoke a heated debate and I don't claim to be an expert on politics and tax, so apologies if my grasp is poor! Just something I've been thinking about.

    The majority of well-reasoned people seem to agree that legalising weed would be a good thing. We know it's significantly safer to both the user and society in comparison to the obvious legal, taxed drugs. We know a lot of people consume it and that criminalising it just means that it has to be bought from underground sources. I don't need to go into this too much as it's been done to death.

    Anyway, if weed was legalised, I'm guessing something like this would happen - it would be heavily invested into by capitalist companies and then taxed by the government, much like cigarettes, right?

    Hypothetically wouldn't we be better off bypassing this, and creating a publicly owned body to regulate sales? That is, approach it from a socialist way of thinking, so that ALL the profits (rather than just what is taxed) from cannabis sales could go back into the government and then used to fund healthcare, education, etc. This would be HUGELY beneficial.
    I'm not totally clear on this, but another (semi)advantage here is that the government would have a lot more control over how weed is priced, sold, distributed, regulated, etc; meaning if legalisation did turn out to be disastrous to society it could be more easily controlled, right?

    Again, my grasp on things like this isn't the best, and I'm aware of what giving control to a corrupt government can do, but assuming it was handled sensibly wouldn't it be beneficial to all sides?
    haha like the NHS? lol, they need to just start handing out weed anyway as compensation for how absolutely **** this country is getting.
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    Would weed really need a competitive market?
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    The flaw in this idea is that it would be in the government's interest to have everybody smoking cannabis in order to boost government revenues. Naturally, cannabis is pretty harmless (I smoke it myself) but it's probably better to leave it to companies who can then in turn be regulated by a government body set up using some of the tax proceeds from taxing the stuff.
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    (Original post by Dux_Helvetica)
    The flaw in this idea is that it would be in the government's interest to have everybody smoking cannabis in order to boost government revenues. Naturally, cannabis is pretty harmless (I smoke it myself) but it's probably better to leave it to companies who can then in turn be regulated by a government body set up using some of the tax proceeds from taxing the stuff.
    I don't really see how that this the flaw in this idea. After all, companies will also want everybody to smoke cannabis in order to boost their revenue. Heck, unlike private companies, if theirs health effects then the government has a interest to reduce their revenue because it collides with the NHS whereas private companies don't give a **** about the NHS and the effects their products wil have on it.

    (Original post by MightyMe.)
    Would weed really need a competitive market?
    Why wouldn't it? Weed is exactly like TV, various different types and can improve with technology. As I said, it's pretty much lime most industries.
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    Just grow your own.
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    (Original post by n00)
    Just grow your own.
    This is exactly what people would do and it would be impossible to police it (it wouldn't be illegal!) making tax revenues pretty small.

    I'm not sure a tax and spend approach would work. Given the conditions endured by "live in gardners" though, having people grow their own is somewhat more preferable. Least objectionable outcome policy would be appropriate.
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    (Original post by Llamageddon)
    This is exactly what people would do and it would be impossible to police it (it wouldn't be illegal!) making tax revenues pretty small.

    I'm not sure a tax and spend approach would work. Given the conditions endured by "live in gardners" though, having people grow their own is somewhat more preferable. Least objectionable outcome policy would be appropriate.
    Happening already and its already impossible to police.
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    (Original post by Llamageddon)
    This is exactly what people would do and it would be impossible to police it (it wouldn't be illegal!) making tax revenues pretty small.

    I'm not sure a tax and spend approach would work. Given the conditions endured by "live in gardners" though, having people grow their own is somewhat more preferable. Least objectionable outcome policy would be appropriate.
    No, it wouldn't happen. How many food items can we currently grow in our backyard that we aren't growing? People would much rather go to the local shop and buy an ounce.
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    Well-reasoned people? By which I suppose you mean people whose reasoning leads them to favour decriminalisation. Cannabis may be less harmfull than alcohol considered in the abstract; but the issue is not one that can be detached from its cultural and social implications. However harmful alcohol or cigarettes may be from a medical perspective, they are an ingrained part of a culture to an extent that cannabis isn't.

    And I see no reason to think ploughing the profits into public services would be a good idea: what makes you think the people who would run cannabis-producing firms would be so foolish that their companies' entire profits would be spent more effectively by the state?
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    (Original post by JacobW)
    Well-reasoned people? By which I suppose you mean people whose reasoning leads them to favour decriminalisation. Cannabis may be less harmfull than alcohol considered in the abstract; but the issue is not one that can be detached from its cultural and social implications. However harmful alcohol or cigarettes may be from a medical perspective, they are an ingrained part of a culture to an extent that cannabis isn't.
    What reason do you believe cannabis should stay illegal (I assume you do)? I'm just curious.
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    (Original post by Sisu)
    What reason do you believe cannabis should stay illegal (I assume you do)? I'm just curious.
    Like I say, whilst I'm sympathetic to the argument that it's a relatively harmless drug, I think that decriminalising it would still do more harm than good. It's addictive properties would mean that consumers would not make rational decisions about how much of it is good for them, allowing private companies to rip them of. You'll probably agree that usage would increase; I don't think we can regard this as a good thing for that reason. I'd object to state provision on the grounds of oppurtunity cost: the money and resources would be better spent elsewhere, given that the net benefits of increased consumption are dubious at best because of consumers' tendency to demand too much of it.

    You might object that all those arguments could equaly be applied to alcohol. You'd be quite right, but alcohol has developed as part of our culture and plays a social role that a similar substance would be needed to fill. Perhaps if all recreational drugs were illegal, I'd be in favour of decriminalising cannabis as the least harmfull (though I'll admit I've never taken it and don't know much about its effects); but as society exists now it would require social engineering to achieve this, which I oppose on the grounds that governments don't have a clue what they're doing when it comes to social and cultural issues and almost always make things worse.
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    (Original post by JacobW)
    Like I say, whilst I'm sympathetic to the argument that it's a relatively harmless drug, I think that decriminalising it would still do more harm than good. It's addictive properties would mean that consumers would not make rational decisions about how much of it is good for them, allowing private companies to rip them of. You'll probably agree that usage would increase; I don't think we can regard this as a good thing for that reason. I'd object to state provision on the grounds of oppurtunity cost: the money and resources would be better spent elsewhere, given that the net benefits of increased consumption are dubious at best because of consumers' tendency to demand too much of it.

    You might object that all those arguments could equaly be applied to alcohol. You'd be quite right, but alcohol has developed as part of our culture and plays a social role that a similar substance would be needed to fill. Perhaps if all recreational drugs were illegal, I'd be in favour of decriminalising cannabis as the least harmfull (though I'll admit I've never taken it and don't know much about its effects); but as society exists now it would require social engineering to achieve this, which I oppose on the grounds that governments don't have a clue what they're doing when it comes to social and cultural issues and almost always make things worse.
    I agree with you that the alcohol counter argument is a **** one because it lacks cultural context which will lead to more negative results. And despite pro-drug rhetoric, cannabis just isn't as popular and used.

    Unlike alcohol, there won't be much social negative impact whereas there will be health impact because as you say usage will increase. In my opinion, cannabis is more comparable to smoking. The negative health impacts which will have effects on the NHS can surely be reimbursed through pigovian tax? Would you be for outlawing smoking (assuming it wasn't very popular in our society and only a small percentage smoked)?

    Also, I feel as though you're using the terms decriminalization and legalization interchangeably. Decriminalizing weed would only mean we don't send people to prison, it doesn't legalize weed and it's use. Given this, do you think decriminalization is a better alternative than illegalization? You can still criminalize the selling of it. Saves money on prison, doesn't ruin youths from lower socioeconomic background opportunities by limiting them even more given the fact they'll now have a criminal record etc.
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    (Original post by Sisu)
    No, it wouldn't happen. How many food items can we currently grow in our backyard that we aren't growing? People would much rather go to the local shop and buy an ounce.
    VAT on food is?

    The infrastructure to mass produce it isn't there, it would taxed to hell and back and it's widely known how to grow the stuff. I'm sure a lot would be sold too but I really wouldn't be surprised if the majority was grown on a small scale in peoples houses.
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    (Original post by Sisu)
    I agree with you that the alcohol counter argument is a **** one because it lacks cultural context which will lead to more negative results. And despite pro-drug rhetoric, cannabis just isn't as popular and used.

    Unlike alcohol, there won't be much social negative impact whereas there will be health impact because as you say usage will increase. In my opinion, cannabis is more comparable to smoking. The negative health impacts which will have effects on the NHS can surely be reimbursed through pigovian tax? Would you be for outlawing smoking (assuming it wasn't very popular in our society and only a small percentage smoked)?
    I'm not sure a pigovian tax would work. They're all very well for dealing with external costs; when consumers are unable to rationaly assess the costs to themselves of consuming a product, taxing it is just going to make the poor and ignorant even poorer.

    And yes, if tobacco had been discovered yesterday I'd be all for banning it!

    (Original post by Sisu)
    Also, I feel as though you're using the terms decriminalization and legalization interchangeably. Decriminalizing weed would only mean we don't send people to prison, it doesn't legalize weed and it's use. Given this, do you think decriminalization is a better alternative than illegalization? You can still criminalize the selling of it. Saves money on prison, doesn't ruin youths from lower socioeconomic background opportunities by limiting them even more given the fact they'll now have a criminal record etc.
    You're right, I was, and I shouldn't have been. I'm in favour of illegalization because I still think there are cases where individuals would benefit from criminal sanctions like mandatory treatment programmes or rehabilitation; but I totally agree that sending people to prison for taking cannabis is as a rule a terrible idea.

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