NO TAXATION WITHOUT LEGALIZATION! Cal NORML Opposes Bills to Tax Medical Marijuana

TAKE ACTION ON SB 987 and AB 2740

SACRAMENTO – Cal NORML is calling on the legislature to reject proposed legislation to tax medical (only) marijuana. SB 987 by Sen. McGuire would impose a 15% excise tax on retail purchases of medical marijuana in addition to the current 7.5+% sales tax plus various local business taxes assessed by some localities. AB 2243 by Asm. Wood would impose a $9.25 per ounce cultivation tax on all medical marijuana produced.

“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,” says California NORML director Dale Gieringer. Many patient advocates regard any taxes on medicine as unjust in principle.

Both taxes are modeled on similar taxes that would be imposed on all marijuana under the proposed AUMA (Adult Use of Marijuana Act) legalization initiative. “If AUMA passes, these bills are redundant and moot,” says Gieringer, “If not, they will only encourage marijuana producers to divert their supplies to the illegal, untaxed, unregulated adult use market.”

Proceeds of the bills would go to local law enforcement activities, state regulation and environmental enforcement related to cultivation, and other programs. In a statement, Sen. McGuire said that the taxes are needed to compensate “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.”

“It is neither just nor appropriate to charge those who are doing their best to supply medicine legally to patients for the costs caused by illicit traffickers,” remarks Gieringer. “We urge the legislature to reject taxation without legalization.”

HEARINGS ARE COMING UP IN SACRAMENTO ON A NUMBER OF BILLS THAT CALIFORIA NORML IS TRACKING:

Monday, April 18 - 10:00 AM State Capitol, Room 4203
Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing on SB 987
SB 987 (McGuire) would impose a 15% tax on retail sales of medical marijuana. Sen. McGuire's office is considering an amendment to exempt MediCal patients from the tax. Cal NORML opposes this bill.

Monday, April 18 - 2:30 PM – State Capitol, Room 126
Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation Hearing on AB 2149
AB 2149 (Bonilla) will allow the CA Board of Equalization to accept cash payments from medical cannabis businesses and organizations on behalf of other state agencies.

Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation Hearing on AB 2243
AB 2243 (Wood) would impose a new $9.75/ounce tax on the cultivation of medical-only marijuana. Read Cal NORML’s letter in opposition to AB2243
See committee website

Tuesday, April 19, 9 a.m. - State Capitol, Room 4203
Senate Public Safety Committee Hearing on SB 1462
SB 1462 (Huff) would "authorize a police officer to use a preliminary oral fluid screening test that indicates the presence or concentration of a drug or controlled substance as a further investigatory tool in order to establish reasonable cause to believe the person was driving a vehicle in violation of certain prohibitions against driving under the influence of drugs."
PASSED AND REFERRED TO APPROPRIATIONS.

Tuesday, April 19, 9 a.m. - State Capitol, Room 126
Assembly Public Safety Committee Hearing on AB 2740
AB 2470 seeks to “make it an offense for a person who has 5 ng/ml or more of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.” NORML is opposed to this proposal. The presence of low levels of THC in blood is an inappropriate and inconsistent indicator of psychomotor impairment. PASSED AND REFERRED TO APPROPRIATIONS. Read more.
Take action on this bill

Tuesday, April 19 - 9:30 AM - State Capitol, Room 4202
Assembly Committee on Business and Professions Hearing on AB 2516
AB 2516 (Wood) would create a new state license for “specialty cottage” cultivation.
PASSED AND REFERRED TO APPROPRIATIONS.

Assembly Committee on Business and Professions Hearing on AB 2385
Our board member Ariel Clark is heading the Los Angeles Medical Cannabis Citizen Task Force on Responsible Regulations in opposing AB 2385 (Jones-Sawyer). PASSED, RELUCTANTLY, WITH MENTION OF RECALLING IT AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT THE VOTERS WOULD HAVE TO DECIDE THE ISSUE.

Assembly Committee on Business and Professions Hearing on AB 2545
AB 2545 (Bonta)
Would authorize the Governor to enter into agreements concerning medical cannabis with federally recognized sovereign Indian tribes.

Tuesday, April 26 - 2:30 PM - State Capitol, Room 126
Assembly Committee on the Judiciary Hearing on AB 2300
AB 2300 (Wood)
Asm. Wood has amended AB 2300 to delete the highly objectionable one-mile no-MMJ-smoking zones around schools, which Cal NORML opposed. The amended bill states that non-smoking zones apply to medical marijuana just like tobacco. Although we object to comparing the dangers of MJ and tobacco smoke, we have removed our opposition, since most people believe it is already the law under SB 420 (HSC 11362.79(a)), and AUMA also subjects marijuana to tobacco non-smoking rules.

OTHER BILLS WE’RE WATCHING:
AB 1575 (Bonta) is a clean-up bill for MMRSA with a number of technical amendments. It refines banking language and eliminates the term “virtual dispensary” in favor of “nonstorefront dispensary.”

SB 1116 (McGuire)
Allows counties to impose a tax on the “privilege” of cultivating, dispensing, producing, processing, preparing, storing, providing, donating, selling, or distributing medical cannabis or medical cannabis products.
Referred to Com. on GOV. & F. (2/25/2016)

AB 26 (Jones-Sawyer)
Requires 3rd Party training for medical Marijuana personnel.
Passed Assembly on 1/27/16 (63-1).
Referred to Sen. Com. on B., P. & E.D. (2/4/16)

AB 821 (Gipson)
Amended language reads: “Before January 1, 2022, a person issued a seller’s permit for a place of business that is a dispensary, as defined in subdivision (n) of Section 19300.5 of the Business and Professions Code, may remit amounts due for retail sales at the dispensary by a means other than electronic funds transfer.”
Passed Assembly 1/28/16 (57-17). Referred to Sen. Com. on GOV. & F. (2/18/16)