The city of Sacramento, California is considering a tax on medical marijuana dispensaries as it struggles with a massive budget deficit.
Faced with a $43 million shortfall for the coming fiscal year, the tax is being explored as one source of revenue by city officials, reports Ryan Lillis at The Sacramento Bee.
Sacramento would become the second city in California to enact a special tax on dispensaries. Oakland voters passed a similar measure last July. San Jose and Berkeley city officials are also taking a look at the issue for their cash-starved budgets.
According to Interim City Manager Gus Vina, Sacramento city officials are considering either a local sales tax or a business operations tax related to medical marijuana dispensaries.
Any special pot tax would require voter approval. It is unclear how much revenue dispensary taxes could create in Sacramento.
Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby estimates initial revenues from that city’s ordinance at $294,000 annually, but Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said she believes the actual take could be closer to $1 million a year.
Sacramento released an outline of its proposed 2010-2011 budget on Friday. City officials are struggling with ways to address a $43 million budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year — the third straight year the city has had a deficit.
City taxes on marijuana are seen by some within the medical cannabis community as unfairly penalizing the sick and dying, since they are assessed solely on medical users of the herb.
According to medical marijuana patient and activist J. Craig Canada, city dispensary taxes “are proposing taking money the sick and dying spend for medicine and giving it to politicians, to balance the budget.”
“The people who use the most marijuana and need the highest potency are the sickets, and probably the poorest,” said Canada, of Santa Cruz. “Medicine should not be taxed.”