State’s untapped pot of gold Sumner speculated that as much as a 1,000 percent tax on marijuana might be levied to keep retail costs sufficiently high and thus deter use by minors.

“It makes more sense to tax things than to ban them,” he said. “You generate revenue and you give people an incentive to behave the way we want.”

Sheri Larsen, a spokeswoman for the California Board of Equalization, said that if an 8 percent sales tax were levied on a $4 billion marijuana crop, the state would take in an extra $317 million a year.

But that number is only a fraction of the revenue that would be expected if Sumner is correct about a whopping dope tax. The 87-cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes, for example, produced $1.1 billion in revenue for California last year.

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