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New Hampshire Commission Explores Taxing Recreational Marijuana

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New Hampshire lawmakers aren’t sure what direction to take when it comes to taxing a federally illegal substance. The study commission, responsible for studying legalization, is having a little trouble figuring it out. New Hampshire is known for its low state-tax rate.

If New Hampshire does choose to legalize recreational marijuana, this question needs an answer, WMUR 9 News reports. Part of what attracts some lawmakers to recreational legalization is the potential for millions of dollars in tax revenue. Not everyone wants to see recreational marijuana become a “cash cow for government”.

Dr. Joe Bannon said, “If we tax it at all, it would be just to pay for anything that would have to do with managing the program.”

Estimates of potential tax revenue were provided to the study commission this week. The estimates are based upon tax rates in other recreationally legal states. Colorado charges 15-percent tax on sales and cultivation. Using that structure, New Hampshire could bring in as much as $41.6-million. Washington state taxes much higher at 37-percent, and that could generate nearly $5-million more for the state.

New Hampshire doesn’t have sales tax at all, so taxing just one item may be a bit difficult.

Representative Patrick Abrami said, “Can we tax a marijuana cookie and not tax an Oreo cookie?”

Andrew Freedman, who formerly oversaw Colorado’s recreational market, said the biggest problems in his state were unregulated home grows.

Freedman said, “It was beginning to attract the attention of organized crime.”

Freedman also pointed out that in Colorado’s last fiscal year, it generated over $200-million in marijuana tax revenue.

Matt Simon of MPP said, “This was billions of dollars of completely unregulated economic activity, and they’ve transferred the vast majority of that into a regulated system.”

Paul Twomey of the New Hampshire Bar Association said, “The evidence you’re getting so far is that it hasn’t caused any major problems there.”

The study commission will present its recommendation with its other findings regarding taxation of recreational marijuana sales.