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Is the Cannabis Sin Tax Fair?

Are cannabis sin taxes fair, or do they encourage black market behavior? Further, do they prevent patients from obtaining medicine?

Jason SanderJason Sander · Aug. 18, 2021 · 4 min read
Is the Cannabis Sin Tax Fair?

Government entities levy sin taxes on goods they deem harmful to consumers, as well as to public health and safety. There exists a plethora of evidence that the plant is beneficial, so is cannabis sin tax fair? Read on for all the details.

What is Sin Tax?

As the theory goes, governments reserve sin taxes to be placed on products and behaviors that they think citizens should avoid. These harmful behaviors include using tobacco products, consuming sugary foods and beverages, drinking alcohol, watching pornography, and gambling.

Sin taxes in general, not just cannabis sin taxes, are polarizing topics and have been for many years. Topics that are up for endless scrutinizing and debate. The theory behind a sin tax is that if these potentially harmful products are more expensive due to gov’t excises, their consumption will be discouraged.

There’s a library of information available online regarding the ins and outs of these established sin taxes. So, we won’t go into detail on any of those here. Additionally, we believe almost anything is fine in moderation.

As such, you are the judge as to the larger picture of what anyone should be considering a “sin.” What we’re concerned about is whether a cannabis six tax should be a thing.

State Cannabis Sin Taxes

Now that we’ve established what a sin tax is, let’s dive deeper into cannabis sin taxes. Whether they should even be a thing speaks to a larger issue. The glaring difference between cannabis and the other products that get sin taxed is that a multitude of evidence exists on the benefits of the plant medicine. Cannabis is legal for medicinal consumption in over 30 states and counting.


In general, cannabis sin taxes are placed on adult-use products. Medical cannabis products have different regulations, and states usually don’t tax patients for their medicine like they do recreational. As previously mentioned, medical cannabis is currently legal in 33 states in the U.S. and some of these states will levy a tax on the purchase of the plant medicine. Thankfully, medical cannabis tax rates tend to be the same as or near the state’s general sales tax rate.

Do Cannabis Sin Taxes Encourage Black Markets?

Unfortunately, many would-be cannabis patients are unable to obtain medical cards. There are also other barriers placed on cannabis medicine restricting access to it depending on the state in question. Because of this, people who probably should be medical cardholders are forced to obtain recreational products, thus being subject to cannabis six taxes.

"People who probably should be medical cardholders are forced to obtain recreational products, thus being subject to cannabis six taxes."

Worse, they are forced to stay in the black market for cannabis, where the plant has been unjustly kept for over 80 years. These facts display yet more reasons why, despite many positive cannabis reforms at the state level, black markets are often still thriving.

Some states impose astronomical cannabis sin taxes. Washington State currently holds the record for the highest cannabis sin tax at a whopping 37%. For this reason, black markets for cannabis likely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon - at least not without more reform.

On top of this, cannabis taxes can worsen the already vastly complex area of starting a legal business, which could lead to fewer businesses being started. As we said, you are the judge of all of this. As the legendary comedian and OG podcaster Bill Burr would say, “plowing ahead here.”

Cannabis Sin Tax - is it Fair?

Should cannabis be considered something the government has the right to tell people to avoid? You decide.

We’ll just say this, imposing astronomically high taxes on cannabis most certainly is not the first, nor will it be the last time American governments fight a losing battle against the plant medicine. And make no mistake. It is very much a losing battle they think they're fighting, and an even bigger losing war. A "war" against a beneficial substance, prohibitionists are losing and will continue to lose in perpetuity.

Until every cannabis “offender” is freed from county jails and state prisons - the war on drugs won’t be going away. As cannabis advocates, we must lead with love and "fight" folly with facts (and perhaps a hash-dash of whimsy) against prohibition and the drug war.

Will federal cannabis prohibition end any time soon? Only time will tell.

Are cannabis sin taxes fair? You be the judge, gentle reader. We genuinely want to hear what you think. Always onward and upward.

HashDash - Connecting the Cannabis Community

We hope you found value in our content about the cannabis sin tax. Did you learn something, or have anything to add? Let us know. Follow us on social media, we are @hashdash on all platforms, except for Instagram, where we are @hashdashdotcom. We love to hear what our platform fans think!

Check back to our blog soon, because we post fresh content often!

HashDash is building a vast knowledge database of helpful educational guides and articles. Our goal is to help you, the consumer, find ways to enhance your cannabis consumption experience.

We plan to add helpful resources, in this case, regarding cannabis sin taxes in each state as we continue building our database. We will be surpassing article #100 this summer, which is a big milestone that we’re excited about.

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Thanks for reading! As always, please respect the incredible cannabis plant and consume responsibly.

Jason Sander
Jason SanderJason is a versatile writer and marketer with over ten combined years of experience working with clients in various industries. He couples this expertise with six years of writing for the cannabis sector as well as a passion for the business side, and the science behind the plant medicine.




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