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Marijuana And Online Gambling: Two Taxable Industries Being Ignored

Gambling News - August 7th, 2009 - Written by Glen

Budgets on a local, state, and federal level have been tight, if not altogether choked. Many states have been turning to different channels of income in order to fix their sinking problems. New methods of taxation have been suggested, and amongst these ideas we have found two civil rights that could be made legal and taxed - Marijuana and Online gambling.

Both industries could prove to add billions of dollars to the government. The tax, be it state, local, federal, excise, and so on, could literally generate billions of dollars for each level of government. Marijuana has been illegal for decades, while Internet gambling has only recently (2006) seen federal interdiction. The future may hold the repeal of these liberty limiting laws, as legislators have been introducing Bills to overturn the previous laws that would decriminalize and regulate two of the most widely used sources of entertainment.

The battle for legalizing marijuana has been a long running, deep seated battle. Federal representatives and state legislators have introduced different Bills with the goal to overturn prior laws, but thus far none have been more successful than reducing penalties. While this is a step in the right direction, the problem still exists - because marijuana is illegal, criminal activity controls the ropes and innocent people are regularly imprisoned.

The legalization of marijuana would take money away from the common criminal and place it back in the coffers of the private sector as well as the government, with the former from profits of sale and the latter through taxation. Reports have shown that in California alone, over $2 billion dollars could be generated for the state. It is California now that is at the spearhead of a state wide legalization of marijuana. Assembly Member Ammiano has introduced the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act - an act that would legalize marijuana on the state level.

The Bill, AB 390, would alter marijuana laws to make the cultivation and sale of marijuana legal to licensees who would adhere to certain restrictions. It would also make the private possession and use legal for citizens above the age of 21. Non-violent marijuana offenders would see their sentences cut short, those in the courts right now for non-violent marijuana charges would be uncharged, and certain records involving the arrest due to marijuana would be destroyed, as per certain restrictions. Note that this Bill only protects those who were not involved in other criminal activities, thus keeping dangerous crooks from enjoying the freedom of the new laws.

Under AB 390, marijuana will be a commercialized, taxed, regulated, and private commodity. Like alcohol, it will still be illegal to operate a vehicle or use in the streets. Minors would still face criminal charges for the possession and use of marijuana and its derivatives. Alcohol laws operate in a similar fashion, in that a minor who uses alcohol is subject to fines and criminal charges. Residents of California will also be protected from state and local agencies from aiding in a federal investigation.

Even if California manages to lift the criminal restrictions on marijuana, there will still be no impunity from the federal level. As per the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana is subject to drug enforcement laws on a federal scale. State laws may not override a federal law, bringing some gray area to the issue. If California does pass this law into effect, residents will still be subject to federal indictment. In the Bill, however, California will be attempt to "encourage the federal government to reconsider its policies concerning marijuana, and to change its laws accordingly."

Internet gambling has also been under fire for several years. While the gamer may not see any criminal charges, any financial institution that processes payments between a player and an Internet gambling site may be held liable and members of the agency could face indictment, fines, or both. Internet gambling is another multi-billion dollar industry that could be taxed. Online poker has reported almost $6 billion dollars in revenue in some years, and even the 10% tax proposed by Senator Menendez could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have proposed a Bill to bring about the legalization of online gambling. This legalization would include the taxation and regulation of the industries. Both sides of Congress have different view points, though the goal is essentially the same.

Senator Menendez of New Jersey has drawn a plan to legalize online poker, rather than online gambling on a whole. His idea is that a licensing fees and tax revenue should be collected from online poker operators. For the protection of the consumer, he has drawn up legislation that would move online poker sites from offshore entities to the USA, making the industry a domestic enterprise.

Representative Barney Frank has also put forth a repeal to the UIGEA. His legislation would loosen online gambling restrictions on the whole. He proposes taxation, licensing, and regulation for the industry. The federal law would allow states to make the decision on whether or not they wish to make online gambling illegal.

In some states, online gambling may be construed as illegal. As of now, the only laws prohibiting online gambling on a federal level are those that would inhibit financial transactions between institutions and Internet gambling sites.

Both of the issues are facing criticism, both for and against. Lawmakers in their respective branches have been kicking both marijuana and online gambling back and forth, but the day we see even one step in the right direction is one that would set an unprecedented standard for civil liberties. California may be the first to legalize marijuana, but they may not be the last. Online gambling and marijuana, despite regulation, are both common occurrences within our nation. Right now, however, either criminals or foreign entities are those who benefit from the profits - not citizens like you and me.

View California's California's "Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education act" : http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_0351-0400/ab_390_bill_20090223_introduced.pdf

View Barney Frank's "Internet gambling regulation, consumer protection, and enforcement act" : http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h2267ih.txt.pdf

View Menendez's bill to legalize online "games of skill" : http://menendez.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=316907&

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