Pot Taxes Are Coming To California

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 10, 2010

    Despite last week’s defeat of Proposition 19 at the polls, new taxes on marijuana are coming to California.

    As I write today in High Times online, California voters on election day by wide margins endorsed citywide medical marijuana tax ordinances in Albany, Berkeley, La Puente, Oakland, Rancho Cordova, Richmond, Sacramento, San Jose, and Stockton. You can read the full details of each of these tax measures, as well as Los Angeles’ latest medi-pot tax plan, here.

    While the bulk of these new tax plans impose fees on the dispensaries themselves — fees that will no doubt indirectly be passed on to the consumer via higher retail prices for cannabis — at least one plan (Rancho Cordova’s Measure O) seeks to impact patients directly by instituting local fees on personal home grows.

    While it is possible (read: likely) that this exorbitant fee will be eventually struck down by the courts as an undue infringement upon patients’ rights under Prop. 215, it could be months or years before such a clarification by the courts is made.

    Patient advocacy groups like Americans For Safe Access oppose the implementation of such medi-tax laws, noting that they could unduly raise the already inflated black market price of medical cannabis, lead to fewer dispensaries, and ultimately limit patients’ access. Nonetheless, it is hardly surprising to see a majority of Californians, at a time of record budget deficits, voting to impose additional taxes upon a minority subset of their community.

    In short, the success of these tax measures at the ballot box is yet further evidence that with or without Prop. 19, more and more city governments — rightly or wrongly — are going to be looking at new ways to raise revenue from California’s burgeoning cannabis industry and its consumers. Industry insiders and those they represent, patients especially, would be best advised to begin playing an active role in their local politics, or else risk suffering the consequences of unreasonable taxation without representation.

    You can read my full thoughts on this developing issue, and comment on it, by clicking here: Like It Or Not, Pot Taxes Are Coming to California.

    29 responses to “Pot Taxes Are Coming To California”

    1. Shane says:

      should have passed prop 19… then they’d have something to tax. Douche bags

    2. weweed says:

      I can see it now …..2014 legal cannabis $1200.00-oz ! You’ve come a long way BABY !

    3. Nic says:

      Has it come down money?

      Is it better to TAX users of Cannabis or Incarcerate them.

    4. […] full post on NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform Share and […]

    5. Mark says:

      Evade the tax until it’s legalized. Better yet, propose a law that the government can’t tax things that are prohibited.

    6. Brian says:

      This whole thing is one giant clusterf*ck, please excuse my French.

      You would think in good ol’ “Live Free of Die” New Hampshire where I reside, we could do this right. We are much smaller than California, and I think groundbreaking legislature is more manageable. Due to free-staters and a largely independent thinking general populace, we tend to be rated fairly libertarian. I argue that we are certainly free thinkers; we generally vote red, but we have legalized same-sex marriage.

      Alas, we have a 4th term Democratic governor who vetoed the most restrictive medical marijuana bill ever written, despite tending to Gov Lynch’s every requirement prior to supposed signing. And now we have a Republican dominated state senate, and not the good libertarian (likely pro-legalization) kind of republicans, the uber neocons.

      So much potential… but absolutely not realistic.

      Where will we legalize Marijuana in 2012? I truly believe the best and only way to do so is via the states, not the federal government. We need to do it in a state where there at least isn’t a huge grey market like California.

      And most of all, we need to head Ron Paul’s advice, like him or not: Bill’s should be simple, no more than one page.

      It should read something like this, only obviously with technical legal jargon, but still only one page:

      Marijuana will be subject to normal sales taxes.
      You must be 21 to purchase and consume marijuana. The penalty for underage use will mirror Alcohol.
      All other usages, penalties, point of sale requirements, driving infractions, and personal production mirrors current Alcohol legislation.

      Boom done.


    7. Steve says:

      Well the taxes better be fair, if you hike the rate high enough you can run a lot of these dispensaries out of business.

      When that happens people will go back to slightly more affordable illegal weed and the medical voters who opposed 19 will wish they hadn’t.

    8. rev.sleezy says:

      Holy Smokes. It is the role of government to tax commerce. They are just doing their job. Once they get the taste of the sows sweet milk they will never leave the teat. Cute little piglets suckling from the sow.


    9. Pat says:

      I think the taxation of our medicine is a mistaken cultural precedent. I voted in favor of prop-19 because I felt freedom from incarceration for all adult users was the highest priority even though it wasn’t in my best interest as a card-carrying medicinal user. 19 got us talking and for that, we owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Lee and his group. I hope that we’re able to come up with a proposal for 2012 that builds on our strengths and those of cannabis to bring its taxable use onto Main Street and its medicinal users the tolerance and eventually the respect accorded to the patients using other botanicals and pharmaceuticals.

    10. Paul csuhta says:

      most people are concerned about the latest football game a quote from part of the movie rather than what are elected officials are doing we have only ourselves to blame they the politicians notice and they will continue with this behavior until the citizens show concern