SACRAMENTO April 11, 2016 - California legislative committees are considering two different bills by North Coast legislators to tax commercial medical marijuana.
• SB 987 by Sen. McGuire (Healdsburg) would impose a 15% excise tax on retail purchases of medical marijuana, above and beyond the current 7.5+% sales tax plus various local business taxes assessed by some localities.
• AB 2243 by Asm. Wood (Headsburg) would impose a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce on medical marijuana flowers, $2.75 per ounce on leaves, and $1.25 on each immature plant sold to licensed distributors in the state.
Cal NORML opposes both bills as excessive and premature, given that the costs would fall exclusively on medical consumers, and Californians are expected to vote on a broader legalize-and-tax initiative this November, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA).
Both tax bills are modeled on similar taxes in AUMA (except AUMA lacks the $1.25 tax on immature plants in AB 2243). Unlike AUMA, though, which would tax all marijuana, SB 987 and AB 2243 apply only to medical marijuana. If AUMA passes, both bills will be redundant and moot. If not, they will almost certainly encourage marijuana producers to divert their supplies to the illegal, untaxed adult use market.
At legislative hearings, Cal NORML attacked both bills as excessive and premature: "At this time when providers already face burdensome new costs under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), it is unwise and inappropriate to impose any new state tax on medical marijuana,” testified Cal NORML director Dale Gieringer. Many patient advocates regard any taxes on medicine as unjust in principle...
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