California has the oldest medical marijuana program in the nation. I will never forget when California voted to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. I was a freshman in high school, and I remember it being such a historical thing. I vividly remember thinking about how I was going to graduate high school later that decade, and move to California to try to land a job in the medical marijuana industry there, which had been operating in the shadows prior to the passage of Prop 215. Oregon of course legalized medical marijuana two years later, prior to me graduating high school, so the urge to move to California never became enough to actually do it.
California is home to the largest medical marijuana industry in America, and it’s not even close compared to other states. I heard an estimate one time that half of the entire medical marijuana industry in America is in California. Last year medical marijuana industry legislation was passed at the state level in California, which will create a state level regulatory system in California. As with most marijuana related legislation, the California legislation left a lot to be desired. There will no doubt be some unanticipated consequences, but one thing that everyone anticipated was a medical marijuana sales tax. One has been introduced in California, which would result in a 15% sales tax. Per SFGate:
California would levy a new 15 percent tax on medical marijuana sales to enforce new regulations and pay for state programs, rehabilitation and parks under a bill introduced Wednesday.
The Marijuana Value Tax Act could bring the state more than $100 million in new revenue. The tax was anticipated after the state passed historic regulations last year that require state and local licenses for medical marijuana businesses under the new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulations.
“Now that there is a long overdue regulatory framework put into place, it’s time to help fund the areas that are most affected by the cultivation — those communities that have long been paying the price of the negative effects of cultivation brought on by the ‘bad actors’ who destroy the environment and bring in crime,” state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, who authored SB987 and parts of last year’s marijuana regulations, said in a statement.
How do readers feel about a 15% tax? Is it too much? Is it not enough? I know that in a perfect world there would be no taxes on marijuana, especially for patients. However, it seems to be a required ‘necessary evil’ in order to have a regulated system. I personally don’t mind a tax, as long as it’s reasonable. Oregon currently has a 25% tax on recreational marijuana, but no tax on medical marijuana. California obviously can’t have a model like that because recreational marijuana is still illegal there. Although, that could change after this year’s election.