Cannabis Laffer Curve Expanded:
The Netherlands Sparked North American Interest

In an earlier post, we examined the recreational pot tax structure.  Using US-only data, we discovered that at its frontier, a Laffer Curve formed that described the maximum amount of tax revenues possible given specific tax rates.

Here we entertain other authorities taxing legal recreational pot.  Added to the blue points forming a limit is another describing the tax rate and revenue per user for The Netherlands (NL) in 2008 (adjusted for inflation).  Through these blue points, the Laffer Curve explains 90% of their variation and is highly negative (power exponent -1.61).

Also considered now but not part of the Laffer Curve is the recent experience of British Columbia (BL 2019).  Observe it registered minuscule tax revenues.

At least 3 factors influence cannabis tax receipts: 1) Ease of legal access: BC, OR, and CA lag far behind their better-organized counterparts in making legal recreational marijuana sufficiently available.  2) Tax rate: From 15.3% (NV 2019) to 108% (WA 2014), revenues go up as tax percentages go down.  3) The proximity of lower-cost options: some would-be CA or CA tourist receipts or go to NV or black markets.

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Laffer Curve Quantified: Pot Taxes Get Too High

The Laffer Curve is the relationship between tax rates and revenues.  For income, taxes of 0% or 100% produce no tax revenue.  Maximum tax receipts lie in-between.

The study of this phenomenon has mainly been theoretical.

The recent rush of states legalizing recreational marijuana gives us a real-world example.

In 2014, Colorado and Washington legalized recreational pot.  Other states followed suit, all with different tax rates.  If we exclude the results for Oregon and California in 2019 (in red), the remaining six blue points form most of the Laffer curve for cannabis.  This blue power curve is highly negative (exponent -1.55) and significant (P-value 1.96E-03).  It explains why Nevada, in 2019, made over 30 times as much per cannabis user as did Washington State in 2014.

In 2019, California, with nearly 13 times the population of its neighbor Nevada, made barely half of the receipts of The Silver State.  California struggles mightily with the cannabis black market because of its tax policy.  There’s a lesson here: Never turn a market analysis problem into a legal one.  If someone blows smoke your way arguing for high marijuana taxes, don’t inhale.

#Laffercurve #markets #marketanalysis #cannabisnews #cannabistax #taxpolicy