Pot Tax Approved For Oakland, Voters To Decide

The Oakland City Council has approved a 1.8% tax on medical marijuana sold inside the city. If voters pass the proposal in July the city will be the first in the nation to tax the drug.
This could be a first step in legitimizing medical marijuana in the state of California and is a victory for advocates.

The tax would be paid by dispensary operators for every $1,000 in gross receipts. Currently they are paying about $1.20 and the change would raise that to as much as $24.

Opposing Views reports:

Four state-licensed dispensaries operate in Oakland.Oakland attorney James Anthony, legal counsel for the Harborside Health Center dispensary and a member of the NORML Legal Committee, told the Oakland Tribune that “paying a higher tax rate could show the 120 jurisdictions across the state that have banned medical marijuana sales that ‘medical cannabis dispensaries are good neighbors’ that can help provide cities with revenue.”

In February another major victory came for advocates when the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that the federal government would no longer be raiding state-approved dispensaries.

California is one of 13 states that has legal medical marijuana. Anyone over the age of 18 who obtains a doctor’s recommendation is able to be allowed to obtain the drug. There are an estimated 200,000 medical-marijuana users in the state. Users are already paying a sales tax on the drug.

If Oakland does approve the additional tax it could bring the city at least $400,000 and possibly more than a million dollars a year. Oakland is also proposing tax measures for hotel patrons, corporate mergers and an adjustment to Measure OO, which requires that money be set aside for youth recreation programs. All of the proposals could help the city come up with an extra $6 to $8 million a year.

The city is currently facing an $83 million shortfall in this year’s budget.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“We wanted to further legitimize the medical-marijuana paradigm to show that we are truly willing to assist [Oakland], and to show other cities that there are social benefits to this,” said Keith Stephenson, executive director of Purple Heart Patient Center.

There doesn’t appear to be any formed opposition against the proposal and medical-marijuana advocates are positive that it will be passed during the vote.

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