The first big snag in the unfolding legal-cannabis world was about tax money. Specifically, how could the government get money out of you for you doing something it was legal to do? How much tax money do you owe the government when selling your backyard grow? Things along this line. There were as many opinions as to what to do as there were people to ask. I liked the idea of treating small grows like “backyard tomatoes.” Some people grow a lot of tomatoes in their backyard garden. Their tomatoes taste wonderful. They sell them from a table out by the street. They sell all they can grow. They have no trouble finding buyers. Do they report this as business income on their taxes? I do not know. And that, according to the government, was the problem.
You see, the government was certain that someone, somewhere, somehow had a taxable event — a garden, perhaps — or, something that with a bit of legislation could be a taxable event — a garden, perhaps, that — God forbid! — went untaxed. To their credit government spokespersons admitted this whole effort was about collecting a fee. Not that there was any justification to collect such a fee. I don’t need a permit to grow tomatoes and peppers in my backyard. Pot’s legal once again, so I don’t pay no stinkin’ fee. This was a shakedown.
Now what they asked wasn’t all that unreasonable: a flat fee, a permit, for “every 10 square feet” of grow space per year you wished to license. It was about $10 a square foot. This whole system is nonsense. I have to pay to grow — why? But some growers argued, and their position had a following, that it was better to pay tribute and buy our peace from government interference. Then, individuals began negotiating low fees with their own government rep. They paid Caesar and got on with with business and life. Since growing was now legal and the obligation to have a permit was being policed by, perhaps, one guy in an office somewhere, maybe, what to do? If you were running a big grow it was easier to get the permit. It was just money. A cost of doing business.
If yours was a smaller, personal grow, well, lots of those folks did get the permit. Most called it a source of pride. There was a larger group, who chose NOT to pay a fee that could be avoided, and who did not obtain permits. They, too, called their decision a source of pride. For many the backyard tomato model worked. If you grow enough to live off of, then you might catch the penetrating gaze of the tax collector. Best to get the permit. If you are just feeding your own head, well . . .
So, now, instead of watching for police cars, some watch for Department of Revenue vehicles. I think, maybe next year, I’ll get the permit. Maybe.
[images: Google images dreams]
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