Media Blog

Memo to California: Pot Heads Can’t Add

Fox News gets to the bottom of some fishy tax-revenue numbers in California:

With its state parks and summer schools on the chopping block, budget-busted California could see a $1.4 billion windfall if it legalizes and taxes the sale of marijuana, the state tax board found in an analysis that was published last week.

But a close look at that $1.4 billion figure raises a timely and important question:

What in blazes were they smoking?

To reach that amount, the board apparently relied on a source that relied on a source that misquoted a book that misquoted a study, all involving a hazy mix of out-of-date numbers, high margins of error and complete guesswork that could be a mere $700 million off the mark.

California’s Board of Equalization published its much ballyhooed analysis last week of a bill that would tax pot like alcohol and also levy an extra $50 fee on every ounce (which already costs about $400), a green godsend the bill’s sponsor says the state can’t afford to pass on.

“It defies reason to propose closing parks and eliminating vital services for the poor while this potential revenue is available,” State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano said in a statement.

According to the tax commission’s report, Californians consume 16 million ounces of pot every year — 1 million pounds exactly — a suspiciously round number the report said was derived from a “literature review” of “law enforcement and academic studies.”

That number would go up even more, it said, if prices dropped by half as the drug became legal.

But FOXNews.com took a close look at the board’s analysis and found a $700 million kink in its accounting.

The board appears to have based its 16-million-ounce guess on a problematic “study” conducted by the founder of a pot-growing university in Oakland and by the director of California’s branch of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

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