A tobacco pirate king in Maryland

posted at 1:21 pm on March 21, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

We’ve spent more than a few gab sessions here talking about the natural path from states hiking up sin taxes on products like tobacco to the inevitable temptation for pirates to begin importing cheaper smokes and turning a profit. But up to this point, the majority of the culprits have been lone wolf types with a trunk full of Pall Malls or some local gangs stocking up specials under the counter at the local convenience store. Maryland, however, may have delivered a real worst case scenario when their own tax and spend policies reeled in a serious player.

A Pawtucket accountant has pleaded guilty of conspiring to bring $1.2 million worth of contraband cigarettes to Rhode Island from Virginia, where the cigarette tax is low.

Bassam Kiriaki, 46, also admitted conspiring to defraud the food stamp program, it was announced Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha. Kiriaki issued the pleas Monday in U.S. District Court.

Kiriaki and six others were indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2013, charged with allegedly participating in a complex conspiracy to import cigarettes from Virginia into Rhode Island where they were sold in convenience stores and other locations allegedly owned or operated by members of the conspiracy and others, Neronha said in a news release. The conspiracy allegedly resulted in the loss of more than $1 million dollars in state tax revenue.

That’s a million in contraband smokes that they know about… from this one guy. I wonder how much more slipped through the cracks? Rhode Island is the 7th highest taxed state for tobacco in the nation according to a new study from The Tax Foundation. (Of course, New York is number one – YAY! – once again, as the linked report shows.) When the incentive and profit motive are there, somebody will step in to fill the void, and as Maryland has shown us, it can attract some big time players.

But rather than realizing what sorts of “profits” they are reaping from this and rethinking the strategy, it looks like the Ocean State is going to double down and bump up their tax on the new e-cigarettes also. Gee… I wonder how that will work out?


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Where’s Allahpundit?

blink on March 21, 2014 at 12:42 PM

On vacation this week, back Monday.

Ed Morrissey on March 21, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Not what Jazz said.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Allahpundit is still standing in line to volunteer for the Crimean Army, but should be returning as soon as that no longer exists.

Fibber.

Bmore on March 21, 2014 at 1:23 PM

In the Obama economy the black market is thriving…

PatriotRider on March 21, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Smart people leave Maryland.

Bmore on March 21, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Is what I just posted racist???…”black market”…

PatriotRider on March 21, 2014 at 1:24 PM

The conspiracy allegedly resulted in the loss of more than $1 million dollars in state tax revenue.

But the federal (if any) and state tax was paid, just in Virginia. Now, if you want to see how hokey this sort of case is, just watch how fast sin taxes hit the dustbin when one state takes another state to court for reimbursement of these “stolen” tax dollars.

BobMbx on March 21, 2014 at 1:27 PM

I’ve always had a secret desire to be a cigarette smuggler.

trigon on March 21, 2014 at 1:27 PM

In the Obama economy the black market is thriving…

PatriotRider on March 21, 2014 at 1:23 PM

….raciiiiiiisssst.

Now that we have that out of the way…

What are they smoking up in RI?

Aside from P-Town that is, where everyone knows what is being smoked.

Thanks, I’ll be here all weak.

Joe Mama on March 21, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Arrrrgh, got your Marboros super cheap here!

Where’s Allahpundit?
blink on March 21, 2014 at 12:42 PM

On vacation this week, back Monday.

Ed Morrissey on March 21, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Not what Jazz said.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Allahpundit is still standing in line to volunteer for the Crimean Army, but should be returning as soon as that no longer exists.

Fibber.

Bmore on March 21, 2014 at 1:23 PM

The cats have been taken to a gulag and Allah is no MacGyver. Send money!

AllahsNippleHair on March 21, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Socialism breeds black markets, every time. This is why socialism always fails.

Whitey Ford on March 21, 2014 at 1:31 PM

I’ve always had a secret desire to be a cigarette smuggler.

trigon on March 21, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Monica smuggled cigars, IYKWIM.

Joe Mama on March 21, 2014 at 1:31 PM

A tobacco pirate king in Maryland

And this is why legalizing drugs won’t get rid of the criminal elements.

Cigarette smuggling is a multi-billion dollar business.

EU member states are believed to be losing 10 billion euros each year in tax revenues lost through cigarette smuggling. Some put the number as high as 17 billion.

sharrukin on March 21, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Maryland? It mentions RI & VA, but where’s MD?

Akzed on March 21, 2014 at 1:34 PM


Smart people leave Maryland.

Bmore on March 21, 2014 at 1:23 PM

I agree. I did.

HomeoftheBrave on March 21, 2014 at 1:35 PM

So what, exactly, is he being charged with?

Mohonri on March 21, 2014 at 1:38 PM

So what, exactly, is he being charged with?

Mohonri on March 21, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Stealing from the government. They hate competition.

AllahsNippleHair on March 21, 2014 at 1:42 PM

I’ve always had a secret desire to be a cigarette smuggler.

trigon on March 21, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Me too. But I’m looking at sugar and red meat as the smuggling growth industries.

Iblis on March 21, 2014 at 1:42 PM

As Walter Williams once said, “I love smugglers”.

Ruckus_Tom on March 21, 2014 at 1:43 PM

So what, exactly, is he being charged with?

Making democrats look bad.

spec_ops_mateo on March 21, 2014 at 1:44 PM

As an out-of-work commercial driver, perhaps I should look into this form of income.

oldleprechaun on March 21, 2014 at 1:45 PM

We’ve spent more than a few gab sessions here talking about the natural path from states hiking up sin taxes on products like tobacco to the inevitable temptation for pirates to begin importing cheaper smokes and turning a profit.

Doesn’t that make them smugglers rather than pirates?

Stoic Patriot on March 21, 2014 at 1:47 PM

And this is why legalizing drugs won’t get rid of the criminal elements.

sharrukin on March 21, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Exactly! The drug cartels and gangs are not going to let the opportunity to undercut the legal marijuana trade slip away, in fact it will simply expand their market. Whatever one’s reason for legalizing pot, the lessening of crime will not happen.

Neitherleftorright on March 21, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Bassam Kiriaki, 46, also admitted conspiring to defraud the food stamp program

…sounds like a good Christian!

KOOLAID2 on March 21, 2014 at 1:51 PM

But up to this point, the majority of the culprits have been lone wolf types with a trunk full of Pall Malls or some local gangs stocking up specials under the counter at the local convenience store.

Not really. Hizbollah has been running cigarettes across state lines for a very long time, even before the taxes got super-extra-astronomically criminal.

Me, I pay $0.85/pack for legal MYO cigarettes and I have about 10 years worth of tobacco and tubes put away. Better tobacco, cheaper than I used to pay when I first started smoking, and it’s all 100% legal (for now). But the best part is that all the taxes the state and feral governments used to collect form me … no more. They can suck it.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 21, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Either the headline (MD) is wrong or the article (RI) is wrong.

I spent two years in the People’s Republic of Maryland and have witnessed the stupidity up close:

1. Raise taxes
2. Productive people flee
3. Tax revenues drop
4. Rinse and repeat

Maryland (geography wise) is overwhelmingly conservative (yes, I was shocked); however, the FSA owns the two largest counties and is driving the state to bankruptcy.

Megyn Kellys Lipstick on March 21, 2014 at 1:53 PM

I have about 10 years worth of tobacco

Even in sealed bags, will tobacco stay fresh (or at least smokable) that long?

Megyn Kellys Lipstick on March 21, 2014 at 1:55 PM

…sounds like a good Christian!

KOOLAID2 on March 21, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Sounds like an Obama voter…

PatriotRider on March 21, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Even in sealed bags, will tobacco stay fresh (or at least smokable) that long?

Megyn Kellys Lipstick on March 21, 2014 at 1:55 PM

I’ve smoked factory cigarettes that were older than that (and had been in opened packs) and they tasted okay to me. As to this tobacco, I’ve had some that had been opened for more than a year and it was fine. It was just a bit dry, which makes the cigarette a little more delicate to smoke, but other than that it tasted fine to me. And it just makes me feel really good to know that I have that tobacco. You know, the seemingly small difference of never having to worry about going out to buy cigarettes makes such a huge impact – even aside from the serious difference in price. Pure peace of mind :)

Anyway, I haven’t had any problems with old tobacco, other than some drying out. Taste-wise and smell-wise I have no issues with it. And in eight or ten years … I might be the only one around with any tobacco, at all!

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 21, 2014 at 2:02 PM

A fool an his money move to Maryland.

Galtian on March 21, 2014 at 2:07 PM

*and

Galtian on March 21, 2014 at 2:07 PM

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 21, 2014 at 2:02 PM

When I was five or six years old (about 40 years ago) I had a grandmother who used snuff. Powdered tobacco you stick in your nose (for those not in the know). I don’t know if you can even buy it anywhere nowadays.

Between the hippies, the dems, and the probable zombies, I wonder if all tobacco products will be like that in ten years.

Megyn Kellys Lipstick on March 21, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Akzed on March 21, 2014 at 1:34 PM

If I mention the Gilbert and Sullivan reference here, are you going to call me gay again?

MJBrutus on March 21, 2014 at 2:15 PM

And this is why legalizing drugs won’t get rid of the criminal elements.

sharrukin on March 21, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Exactly! The drug cartels and gangs are not going to let the opportunity to undercut the legal marijuana trade slip away, in fact it will simply expand their market. Whatever one’s reason for legalizing pot, the lessening of crime will not happen.

I guess that explains why there’s still all those alcohol gangs running around selling bathtub gin and using violence to gain market share. Yeah, repealing prohibition didn’t put a dent in their criminal enterprise.

kylearane on March 21, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Neitherleftorright on March 21, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Not so. It is the government over-regulation and over-taxation of tobacco which created this market.

MJBrutus on March 21, 2014 at 2:19 PM

My wife always tells the story of when she lived in NY city, they would collect money in their office for people who wanted to buy cigarettes from the Indian reservation upstate, tax free. Someone would take the stash to the reservation, buy the cigs, and distribute them when they got back in the office. Pretty simple, really.

Deckard BR on March 21, 2014 at 2:20 PM

In the Obama economy the black market is thriving…

PatriotRider on March 21, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Actually, its a gray market. The product is legal, but the end run around government thieves is not. Of course, legal and right are not synonymous, nor are illegal and wrong.

kylearane on March 21, 2014 at 2:22 PM

I guess that explains why there’s still all those alcohol gangs running around selling bathtub gin and using violence to gain market share. Yeah, repealing prohibition didn’t put a dent in their criminal enterprise.

kylearane on March 21, 2014 at 2:16 PM

The difference is that unless you are an alcoholic; alcohol is not a regularly purchased item. One time paying a sin tax doesn’t hurt nearly as much as something you pay for daily or weekly i.e., cigarettes and or pot. Simple economics is in play. Demand is higher for cigarettes and pot than alcohol, because the usage is higher. This creates a bigger demand, and the taxes hurt more.

melle1228 on March 21, 2014 at 2:23 PM

If I mention the Gilbert and Sullivan reference here, are you going to call me gay again?

MJBrutus on March 21, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Only if you mention Sigfried and Roy as well.

melle1228 on March 21, 2014 at 2:24 PM

melle1228 on March 21, 2014 at 2:24 PM

TY. It’s hard to see where the lines are sometimes :-)

MJBrutus on March 21, 2014 at 2:25 PM

The difference is that unless you are an alcoholic; alcohol is not a regularly purchased item. One time paying a sin tax doesn’t hurt nearly as much as something you pay for daily or weekly i.e., cigarettes and or pot. Simple economics is in play. Demand is higher for cigarettes and pot than alcohol, because the usage is higher. This creates a bigger demand, and the taxes hurt more.

Maybe you don’t purchase it regularly, but establishments that sell it do. I have a hard time believing only a tiny portion of the population buys alcohol on a regular basis considering the amount of advertising out there.

Besides, since the product is legal how does a criminal force you to buy it? When it was illegal you couldn’t run to the police since you’d be arrested too. There’s only one class of criminal that can get away with making you buy something you don’t want, and it isn’t made up of private citizens.

kylearane on March 21, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Monica smuggled cigars, IYKWIM.

Joe Mama on March 21, 2014 at 1:31 PM

I’m not properly equipped to perform that trick. lol.

trigon on March 21, 2014 at 2:39 PM

And this is why legalizing drugs won’t get rid of the criminal elements
.sharrukin on March 21, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Pfft. Legalizing drugs gets rid of punishing addicts. High taxes in any commodity encourages criminal elements looking to skim the middle between retail cost and final cost after taxes.
So get rid of sin tax and you eliminate criminal elements. Easy peasy.
There’s black markets for cigs, alcohol, fireworks, gasoline and everything else wher one state taxes more than the neighboring states. Ask Illinois about lost revenue on gasoline or Iowa about lost revenue on fireworks.

AH_C on March 21, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Simple economics is in play. Demand is higher for cigarettes and pot than alcohol, because the usage is higher. This creates a bigger demand, and the taxes hurt more.

melle1228 on March 21, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Not to mention the scale of economics involved. A hardcore alcoholic can still manage to get a legal gallon of rotgut for under ten dollars (not enough to incentivize a black market).

Megyn Kellys Lipstick on March 21, 2014 at 2:44 PM

So get rid of sin tax and you eliminate criminal elements. Easy peasy.
There’s black markets for cigs, alcohol, fireworks, gasoline and everything else wher one state taxes more than the neighboring states. Ask Illinois about lost revenue on gasoline or Iowa about lost revenue on fireworks.

AH_C on March 21, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Just get rid of the high taxes?

I am sure the politicians would be fine with reducing government income. /

sharrukin on March 21, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Even in sealed bags, will tobacco stay fresh (or at least smokable) that long?

Megyn Kellys Lipstick on March 21, 2014 at 1:55 PMFreezer.

katy the mean old lady on March 21, 2014 at 2:53 PM

I guess that explains why there’s still all those alcohol gangs running around selling bathtub gin and using violence to gain market share. Yeah, repealing prohibition didn’t put a dent in their criminal enterprise.

kylearane on March 21, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Ok. Let’s have the government impose a $20 per ounce sin tax on alcohol. 12 ounce beer? $240. We’ll see how many criminal enterprises pop up with bathtub gin.

It’s the same thing with tobacco (and now marijuana). Uncle Sugar wants his cut, in taxes, and when he pushes too hard, up pops a black market that’s a lot cheaper.

How many regulations, fees, licenses, counseling, taxes, law enforcement and what not are being imposed on the LEGAL sale of pot in Colorado?

How many regulations, fees, licenses, counseling, taxes, law enforcement and what not are the Mexican cartels worried about for the ILLEGAL sale of pot in Colorado?

Ruckus_Tom on March 21, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Maybe you don’t purchase it regularly, but establishments that sell it do. I have a hard time believing only a tiny portion of the population buys alcohol on a regular basis considering the amount of advertising out there.

You are seriously trying to tell me that you think customers require alcohol on the same frequency that they buy cigarettes?

Besides, since the product is legal how does a criminal force you to buy it? When it was illegal you couldn’t run to the police since you’d be arrested too. There’s only one class of criminal that can get away with making you buy something you don’t want, and it isn’t made up of private citizens.

kylearane on March 21, 2014 at 2:39 PM

No one is saying the criminal is forcing you to buy something. Most people will buy because it is cheaper and there is not taxes hence the fact that there is a black market at all.

melle1228 on March 21, 2014 at 3:05 PM

In the parade of life, I’d rather have the tax pirates marching than the butt pirates.

M240H on March 21, 2014 at 3:09 PM

I am sure the politicians would be fine with reducing government income. /

sharrukin on March 21, 2014 at 2:44 PM

I’m sure they’d look at it that way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if government revenue went UP if the outrageous tax rates were reduced.
If the legal price of something is low enough, there’s far less (or no) black market since the profit margin of the illegal enterprise isn’t high enough to cover the risk. Dry up the black market, and legal sales, with accompanying tax revenues, go up.

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:10 PM

How many regulations, fees, licenses, counseling, taxes, law enforcement and what not are being imposed on the LEGAL sale of pot in Colorado?

How many regulations, fees, licenses, counseling, taxes, law enforcement and what not are the Mexican cartels worried about for the ILLEGAL sale of pot in Colorado?

Ruckus_Tom on March 21, 2014 at 3:04 PM

According to one of my sons, the illegal pot market in Colorado is still thriving, because:
1) they have a larger supply than what is so far available legally
and
2) they have a lower price – due to the limited amount of legal pot available and the fairly high tax rate – so the illegal pot is generally cheaper than the legal pot.
That balance will likely change as the legally grown pot supply grows and gets to the market.

Also, since people are now allowed to legally grow up to 6 plants for their own personal use, a lot of people won’t be buying their pot anywhere – which will likely reduce the demand for retail pot.

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:16 PM

Also, since people are now allowed to legally grow up to 6 plants for their own personal use, a lot of people won’t be buying their pot anywhere – which will likely reduce the demand for retail pot.

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:16 PM

This is the Ace that will end the black or grey market. As long as people can readily cultivate their own supply the price will be low. Even if taxation on store bought pot runs amok.

MJBrutus on March 21, 2014 at 3:20 PM

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:16 PM

I heard it was something like $350 an ounce in Denver- that is frickin robbery, and since I am not a pot smoker- not the best way to spend that kind of money.

Yes, some people can cultivate their own, but I would assume if you are a heavy pot smoker- 6 plants are not going to be enough. You will still have legal issues when the state goes after those growers who try to cultivate more thus cutting into the state’s profits.

Let’s face it, whenever the government regulates something; their are going to be some kind of criminality attached to it. Government regulation isn’t much better than government bannings.

melle1228 on March 21, 2014 at 3:27 PM

my cigars used to be $3.25/ea, now I’m lucky if I can get them for $5/each when I buy a box. pisses me off to no end.

Murphy9 on March 21, 2014 at 3:29 PM

melle1228 on March 21, 2014 at 3:27 PM

1. 6 plants is a lot.

2. non-smokers will grow and sell if there is a profit in it.

3. pot tourists are contributing to the inflated Denver price.

MJBrutus on March 21, 2014 at 3:30 PM

WHERE IN THIS ARTICLE IS MARYLAND MENTIONED, AT ALL??!!

Ozmondias on March 21, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Anyway, I haven’t had any problems with old tobacco, other than some drying out. Taste-wise and smell-wise I have no issues with it. And in eight or ten years … I might be the only one around with any tobacco, at all!

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 21, 2014 at 2:02 PM

I think it dries out. That was the reason for humidors. But that might only apply to cigars.

crankyoldlady on March 21, 2014 at 3:41 PM

melle1228 on March 21, 2014 at 3:27 PM

1. 6 plants is a lot.
2. non-smokers will grow and sell if there is a profit in it.
3. pot tourists are contributing to the inflated Denver price.
MJBrutus on March 21, 2014 at 3:30 PM

I’m not a pot smoker, or anything smoker for that matter, so I don’t know all the details. But as MJB says, 6 full plants is a lot, and so is a full ounce, as I understand it. The price you mention is probably about right – last I heard it’s actually priced at the 1/8 ounce level, which is about $60 or so. I don’t think you can legally buy a full ounce all at one time either – there’s a limitation for “personal use” quantities.

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:41 PM

HA has posted several stories on cigarette taxes, and most of what is written is blowing smoke. If the problem is that smuggling is encouraged because state A taxes cigarettes more heavily than state B, you could contend that the solution is for state A to lower its tax rate to that of state B. OK, but then … state B could also raise its rate to that of state A. OK, but then … what about the very low rate of state C and the very high rate of state D? EZ- Do away with state tobacco taxes and impose a single federal tax based on the highest rate in the nation. After a little overhead (heh) is deducted, return the money to the states based on location of purchase.

Christie Chris conservatism for the win!

corona79 on March 21, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Rhode Island is such a small state people probably buy their cigarettes elsewhere anyhow.

crankyoldlady on March 21, 2014 at 3:42 PM

my cigars used to be $3.25/ea, now I’m lucky if I can get them for $5/each when I buy a box. pisses me off to no end.

Murphy9 on March 21, 2014 at 3:29 PM

As I understand it, the total tax rate on cigars in Colorado is around 40% – actually higher than for pot.
I still can’t square that one in my head.

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Not so. It is the government over-regulation and over-taxation of tobacco which created this market.

MJBrutus on March 21, 2014 at 2:19 PM

And your point… if you have one?

Neitherleftorright on March 21, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Much of the interstate traffic in contraband tobacco is run by islamic mobs to fund their activities. It makes sense in that it is very profitable but doesn’t carry the level of prison sentence that drugs or guns can.

~~~

There was an old tale from North Carolina back in the 1960s. Two brothers from outside Raleigh heard that cigarettes brought a pretty penny in New York. They were selling for $7 a carton there, but only $2.50 in NC (this was the ’60s, smoking was cheaper then). So they hatched a plan to load up their pickup and take smokes to NYC, where they could sell them quickly for $5 a carton and double their money.

So they get to New York and pull up near Times Square and start selling. Sure enough, cartons are moving fast, but then one customer warns them, “Hey, the cops will bust you for not having the NY tax stamp, be careful.” They decided to sell the rest for $2 a carton and get rid of them, which they did. Then they went home and reloaded.

Next trip, they just started selling at $2 a carton right off so they wouldn’t get caught, and again sold out in no time.

After the third trip, they were on their way home and one brother says to the other, “Something is wrong here – we’re losing money!”

The brother replies, “Yeah, I know and I’ve been studying on that. I think I figured out the problem. What we need is a bigger truck.”

Adjoran on March 21, 2014 at 3:47 PM

melle1228 on March 21, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Colorado residents can buy up to 1 ounce at a time.
Non-residents can only buy 1/4 ounce at a time.

http://reason.com/blog/2013/06/12/can-colorados-limit-on-pot-purchases-by

Lots of other info if you goggle or bing Colorado pot.

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Adjoran on March 21, 2014 at 3:47 PM

You left off the ending.
My guess is they became Dem politicians.

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 3:54 PM

1. 6 plants is a lot. Who’s going to make sure legal growers only have 6 plants (ATF, DEA, local law enforcement)? What happens when someone has more than 6 (jail time, prosecutors, jailors, law enforcement)? Are cartels worried about growing only 6 plants? Which will end up cheaper – legal or illegal pot?

2. non-smokers will grow and sell if there is a profit in it. How are they going to legally sell it? Will they need a license? Will their home now become a “business” instead of a “residence” for property tax purposes? How many ounces can be produced by 6 plants? A lot? Can you make a profit after all the legal hoops (licensing, regulations, fees, taxes, inspections) to jump through to make a profit on 6 plants?

3. pot tourists are contributing to the inflated Denver price. Is that the legal price or the black market price? How much is a black market ounce of pot just across the border in New Mexico compared to a legal ounce in Colorado?

MJBrutus on March 21, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Ruckus_Tom on March 21, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Ruckus_Tom on March 21, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Uhhh – yes… ?

A lot of good questions that I’m sure the Dems who pushed this through likely never thought about.

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Ruckus_Tom on March 21, 2014 at 3:57 PM

From what I’ve heard, the illegal price is still a decent amount lower than the legal price – how much, I don’t know.
That’s all I got….

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 4:08 PM

This is the Ace that will end the black or grey market. As long as people can readily cultivate their own supply the price will be low. Even if taxation on store bought pot runs amok.
MJBrutus on March 21, 2014 at 3:20 PM

Are you being serious?

a)people are lazy. Why grow it when someone else can and for less effort?

b)If you grow it legally but begin to sell it to others you will be in violation, a criminal offense.

c) As happens here in California where it is legal to grow your own medicinal pot, people will burglarize legal grows, another criminal offense.

d)Drug cartels and gangs will shut down your enterprise in any manner they deem fit, including murder. Numerous criminal offenses.

Whether you want to agree or not, legalization of marijuana will lead to an increase in crime not a decrease.

Pure logic.

Neitherleftorright on March 21, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Whether you want to agree or not, legalization of marijuana will lead to an increase in crime not a decrease.
Pure logic.

Neitherleftorright on March 21, 2014 at 4:14 PM

And that is bearing out as the truth – so far.
cross Colorado, there have been LOTS of burglaries and robberies of pot businesses since it was initially legalized for medicinal use.
Even more since legalization for recreational use and the ensuing growth of businesses growing, processing and selling it.
Major reason a lot of towns are passing laws to keep pot businesses out – there’s a pretty good crime rate associated with them.

dentarthurdent on March 21, 2014 at 4:22 PM

I’ve always had a secret desire to be a cigarette smuggler.

trigon on March 21, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Excuse me, that should be ‘undocumented merchant’.

slickwillie2001 on March 21, 2014 at 4:29 PM

Back around 2004 a Hezbollah cell was clearing about $10m a year doing a trade in cigs between NC and Detroit then putting the cash into accounts in Toronto. They were doing that for a few years before they were busted.

Yes, high sin taxes help real pirates, too. Perhaps it helps them the most as they have a better idea of how much they can markup a commodity to maximize profit and keep overhead low.

ajacksonian on March 21, 2014 at 4:32 PM

I decry lawbreaking, and yet: Hard to criticize one group of thieves (smugglers) stealing from another (state government). As Kissinger said of the Iran-Iraq War: “It’s a shame they cannot both lose.”

Personally, if I were faced with such a huge disparity in costs, I believe I’d hop into my car in New York and drive to a lower tax region, returning with several cases of ‘souvenirs’. But that’s just me.

orangemtl on March 21, 2014 at 5:01 PM

This is how a nation becomes a third world cesspool.

The government enacts unfair, punitive laws and taxes, so the people spend their days either trying to get in on the graft or trying to avoid them.

I have also read where these illegal cigarette sales fund jihad.

PattyJ on March 21, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Ok. Let’s have the government impose a $20 per ounce sin tax on alcohol. 12 ounce beer? $240. We’ll see how many criminal enterprises pop up with bathtub gin.

Good argument against high taxes.

It’s the same thing with tobacco (and now marijuana). Uncle Sugar wants his cut, in taxes, and when he pushes too hard, up pops a black market that’s a lot cheaper.

If you refer to it as HIS cut then you accept the premise he has a right to it in the first place.

How many regulations, fees, licenses, counseling, taxes, law enforcement and what not are being imposed on the LEGAL sale of pot in Colorado?

How many regulations, fees, licenses, counseling, taxes, law enforcement and what not are the Mexican cartels worried about for the ILLEGAL sale of pot in Colorado?

Right. Because Colorado is the only market they serve.

kylearane on March 21, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Hey, didn’t you mistake Rhode Island and Maryland a couple of months ago?

What’s up with your spell checker or are you being pranked by your coworkers?

Phil

palarson on March 21, 2014 at 6:41 PM

Just what does this story have to do with Maryland?
That’s a major case of dyslexia you have there.

Another Drew on March 22, 2014 at 2:25 AM