A funny thing occurs in the world of politics when it comes to marijuana taxes. The word 'tax' is a trigger word in politics, and is not a popular thing, which is why politicians try to avoid using the word. In California, new taxes come with some serious hurdles to jump, which is why some politicians are trying to get crafty when it comes to creating a new medical marijuana tax for patients purchasing medicine. See the legislative alert that I received below out of California:
Desperate members of the California Senate are now trying to side-step constitutional protections in an effort to stick medical marijuana patients with a tax. The state constitution requires tax bills to pass with a two-thirds vote, but lawmakers are making a shameful attempt to get around that requirement to raise revenue off the backs of the sick by simply replacing the word "tax" with "user fee."
SB 987 would impose a 15% tax for the sale of medical marijuana to patients. Ever since the bill was introduced back in February, the purpose of the bill was clear --- it meant to tax sick people who rely on medical marijuana. Measures like this are particularly harmful for patients who often have limited incomes and who face serious illnesses. And no insurance company currently covers the cost of medical marijuana.
But once the bill hit the Senate floor this week, it looked like it might not reach the two-thirds vote required. The solution was an attempt to dodge the constitutional standard with a crass amendment that simply swaps out words. With the stroke of a lawmaker's pen, the 15% tax became a 15% "user fee" --- meaning a simple majority may be required to pass.
Please contact your senator right now and voice your opposition. Then, you can help spread the word and forward this message to friends, family, and supporters in California.
Senior Legislative Analyst
Marijuana Policy Project