California Considers Taxing Medical Marijuana


Graphic: CBS News

​A bill to tax medical marijuana like tobacco is scheduled for hearings by the California State Senate Revenue & Taxation Committee next Wednesday, June 23.

The bill, SBX6-16, sponsored by Sen. Ronald Calderon of Montebello, Calif., would tax all sales of cannabis (except wholesale-level distribution to collectives, cooperatives or dispensaries) at a rate equal to the tax rate on tobacco products.
If it seems a little odd to you that medicine would be subject to the “vice” tax on tobacco, which has no medical uses, you’re not the only one. Many patient advocates strongly oppose taxing medical marijuana.

Dale Gieringer, California NORML: “We cannot support taxes on medical marijuana at present inflated black market prices”

​But Sen. Calderon’s office has been evasive about discussing the bill, and has not returned phone calls from medical marijuana advocates, according to California NORML.
“We cannot support taxes on medical marijuana at present inflated black market prices,” said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML.
“Many patients are poor and living on disability,” Gieringer said. “Until current laws are changed to clearly recognize the legality of cannabis sales, any tax proposals are highly premature and unwarranted.”
According to Gieringer, the provisions of SBX6-16 lack basic understand of cannabis, which is not at all similar to tobacco either in its health effects, or in how it is marketed.
Tobacco is taxed by the cigarette, while marijuana is sold by weight, making it difficult to make sense of the bill’s mandate that they be taxed “at the same rate.”
Because SBX6-16 is a tax bill, it would require a two-thirds majority for passage.
Opponents said they are hopeful they can defeat the bill in committee.