The RAND Corporation has issued a study on Proposition 19, the ballot measure that would legalize marijuana.
A key finding is that if voters approve the initiative, the price of marijuana would drop by as much as 80%. Not surprisingly, that would lead to an increase in consumption of perhaps 100% or more — the highest levels since the late 1970s.
From there, it gets a little fuzzy.
The Board of Equalization has estimated that a marijuana tax could generate $1.4 billion of state revenues, but the study authors say there are too many variables to accurately predict the effect on revenues.
If Prop. 19 passes, one of the big unknowns is how the federal government would respond. Marijuana would remain illegal under federal law. The feds could sue the state, increase enforcement or withhold funding. Any of those options could have the result of keeping sales effectively prohibited, which would mean the state wouldn't realize much if any tax revenue.
Or the feds could leave the state alone, which might have the effect of turning marijuana into a significant export crop, which would result in higher than expected revenues.