Tax and Fee Changes for Medical Marijuana Patients upon Prop. 64 Passage

UPDATE 11/22: State leaders scramble to delay tax break for medical marijuana patients

October 28, 2016 - The California State Board of Equalization has issued an announcement about the effect of Proposition 64 on sellers of medical marijuana.

The BOE states that if Proposition 64 passes, effective November 9, 2016, qualified patients or their primary caregivers will be exempted from retail sales tax on medical cannabis, medical cannabis concentrate, edible medical cannabis products, or topical cannabis if they present a valid Medical Marijuana Identification Card issued by the California Department of Public Health at the time of purchase.

Medical marijuana retailers would be able to claim the exemption on their sales and use tax return. Retailers would need to retain supporting documentation to substantiate exempt transactions.

The base rate for Sales and Use taxes in California is 7.5%; some places enact higher rates.

People will still need, at the least, medical marijuana recommendations from a doctor to purchase cannabis at a dispensary in California until 2018 when retail licenses are issued for recreational shops; also patients will need recommendations if they want to grow more than the 6-plant limit in Prop. 64 (in places that will allow medical marijuana cultivation).

If Proposition 64 passes, effective January 1, 2018, a 15 percent excise tax, based on the gross receipts from the retail sale, would be imposed upon retail purchasers of all marijuana and marijuana products, including medical marijuana. In addition, a tax on cultivators of marijuana would be imposed. Patients would not be excluded from these taxes.

If Proposition 64 does not pass, the sales of medical marijuana and medical marijuana-related products remain subject to sales and use tax, and there will be no excise tax or cultivation tax imposed.

In addition, over 50 cities and counties have measures on the November ballot to enact taxes on medical marijuana, or on recreational marijuana should Prop 64 pass. The taxes on patients will go into effect immediately or on January 1, 2017; check with your local officials. Current local taxes on medical marijuana will not be exempted under the new law.

The cost of the State Medical Marijuana Card ID will be capped at $100 (or $50 for MediCal patients) on November 9, since that provision is also in Prop. 64. ID cards are issued through county health department offices (except for Sutter county, which does not participate in the ID card program).

The ID card program is voluntary in California; however patients with a doctor’s recommendation only will not qualify for the tax break should Prop. 64 pass.

The state ID card system has safeguards to protect patient privacy. Patient names and addresses are not kept in the state's database: the only information retained is a personal photo and ID number. Read more on ID cards.

UCLA Doctor recommendation DENIED?!

I've seen multiple mental health and behavioral health Doctors through the UCLA and LA County systems since 2005.

Recently I was recommended by my Doctor at UCLA (that already handles all of my behavioral health related prescriptions and treatment) to seek out "low THC, high CBD content" therapies for PTSD, which I've been on way too many pills for since 2005.

Dispensaries are telling me this letter of recommendation is not enough, but they don't know what to do other than send me to shady people down the street.

What do I need to do, REALLY?

If Doctors at UCLA Medical Centers aren't legitimate in the eyes of dispensaries, but people working out of their cars and garages are... this lends all sorts of weight to the already repugnant attitudes therapeutic marijuana users face all the time. "Just pay $40 across the street like everyone else" is NOT acceptable when people have legitimate, long standing diagnoses, health care coverage, and are seeking help without stigma.

Medical patients

For medical patients will they still have a limit on how much to carry on them? How many plants are they allowed to grow? Will prop 64 abolish all laws pertaining to prop 215 for medical users? Will medical users have a more difficult time purchasing the medical they need because of this props taxes?

Medical questions

As we have repeatedly posted, Prop. 64 does not interfere with medical rights for patients, see: They may still possess and grow what they need for their medical use, subject to local zoning regulations. Medical patients with the state ID card are now exempt from state sales tax; in 2018 they will have to pay the 15% state excise tax plus the $9.25 per ounce tax, see: We'd like to get that reduced for patients and small businesses, and increase access for patients overall. Join Cal NORML and help us!

question not comment

what about those of us with cards but not state issued cards whose docs are afraid to give recommendation

a recommendation is not a "card"

many doctors offer their cannabis recommendation in the shape of a "card" but indeed it is only a recommendation. Culturally many people say, "i got my card" when what they really did was go to a doctor and get recommended cannabis. Its a misunderstanding that is very common.

card question

I don't know what kind of card you are talking about; to get a state ID card you need a doctor's recommendation. We list doctors who provide recommendations at: