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Tax windfall beckons with pot legalization

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While polling suggest broad popular support for legalizing recreational marijuana, Michigan's political establishment, local and state, is cautious at best.

To build support for legalization and discourage locales from restricting marijuana businesses, the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act is studded with sweeteners — an array of fees and taxes — that will appeal to many revenue challenged communities.

While there are no hard numbers, Josh Hovey, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, estimated that excise taxes alone will yield $100 million in revenue. The group derives this estimate from the size of the Michigan's medical marijuana industry and the tax-revenue experience of other states, Hovey said.

The legalization act specifically apportions the excise tax windfall to community colleges, veterans, county government and municipalities. Among the revenue opportunities in the proposed measure are:

  • Administrative/Enforcement fees: Municipalities can charge each business as much as $5,000 annually to cover their costs.
  • Civil violation fines: Businesses with civil violations of a municipality's marijuana ordinances face fines of up to $500 per violation.
  • Individual fines: A range of penalties for civil infractions and misdemeanors range between $100 and $2,000.
  • Excise taxes: The state would tax the sale and transfer of marijuana at $20 per dryweight ounce of marijuana flowers and $6.75 per dry-weight ounce of marijuana leaves.
  • Other taxes: Marijuana transactions will be subject to sales taxes. Businesses will pay personal property taxes on equipment. Municipalities will collect income taxes. Buildings will be assessed property taxes and fees for improvements.

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