2. A Penalty Fee
on the marijuana industry for every underage marijuana user.
Why is this needed?
Each year, six out of ten new smokers are under age 18. Nine out of ten new drinkers are under age 21. (1) Clearly, age limits do not protect children from industries that sell them alcohol and tobacco. An age limit will not prevent a marijuana industry from selling marijuana to kids either. This provision will: 

  • Hold industry accountable by imposing a penalty fee the marijuana industry must pay for every underage young person in the nation who uses marijuana in his or her lifetime.
  • Assemble an independent advisory panel of economists, with no representation from any industry that sells an addictive drug. The panel will calculate the worth to the industry of a person who starts using marijuana under age 21 and smokes the drug over a lifetime and will establish a penalty fee that is 10 percent greater than that amount. The fee will be adjusted from time to time to reflect changes in marijuana prices.
  • Specify that the national Monitoring the Future Survey, conducted annually and sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, shall determine how many American youth are using marijuana.

The 2009 Monitoring the Future Survey reports that 29 percent of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students have used marijuana at least once in their lifetimes. (2) Penalty fees will be waived if lifetime marijuana use decreases to the threshold of 5 percent among young people ages 12 to 20, but imposed when lifetime use increases by any amount above 5 percent.

Penalty fees will encourage the marijuana industry to reduce underage use from current levels because the fees will be waived as use declines. At the same time, penalty fees will discourage the marijuana industry from marketing to children because, if underage use increases, each new underage user will cost the industry more money than it could have made getting them to start young.

Historically, the alcohol and tobacco industries have tried to hold people accountable by telling them to use their products responsibly. Penalty fees will flip that by forcing the marijuana industry to sell its products responsibly.


1. 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2010), p 59. Bethesda, Maryland: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

2. Johnston LD, O’Malley PM, Bachman JG, Schulenberg JE (2010). Monitoring the future national results on adolescent drug use: Overview of key findings, 2009 (NIH Publication No. 10-7583), p 46. Bethesda, Maaryland: National Institute on Drug Abuse.


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