Cities Eye Taxes on Marijuana
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Cities Eye Taxes on Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on June 14, 2010 at 19:58:29 PT
By Sam Scott, The Press Democrat
Source: Press Democrat
CA -- If California voters want to legalize it, Larry Robinson wants to tax it. The Sebastopol councilman is asking his fellow city leaders to consider ways to tax marijuana sales if California voters approve a measure on the November ballot that would legalize pot.The council is scheduled to discuss the idea at its meeting Tuesday night, joining a growing number of cities intrigued by the bottom-line benefits of taxing marijuana.
Robinson said he's not asking the council to take a stance on legalizing recreational use of cannabis. He just wants the city to position itself to move quickly if voters approve the November ballot measure, which would allow adults to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana.“It's just recognizing that there's a relatively good chance that this initiative will pass,” Robinson said. “I just want the city of Sebastopol to be in the best possible position to both regulate and tax it.”Robinson is proposing to place a measure before Sebastopol voters in November that would authorize the city to tax marijuana sales. The council must vote on the concept by August to make the ballot.Robinson said he envisions a 1 percent to 2 percent local tax on all marijuana sales, both on existing sales of medical marijuana and potential future sales of pot for recreational use.Rich Maloney, who purchases medical marijuana at the only cannabis dispensary in Sebastopol, Peace in Medicine Healing Center, said he would be willing to pay more if pot was taxed by local government. The state already taxes sales of medical marijuana.He credits cannabis for getting him off a host of narcotics that he began taking after breaking his leg in a motorcycle accident a year and a half ago.Robert Jacob, executive director of Peace in Medicine, which soon plans to open another clinic in Sebastopol, said he also welcomes paying more taxes.The more the nonprofit business contributes to the community, the more people see it as a local asset, he said.“Taxation provides legitimacy,” he said.Jacob, however, would only support the tax if Sonoma County adopts a similar policy. Otherwise Peace in Medicine would lose its ability to draw clients, he said.Already, the clinic has to compete with dispensaries that have arisen since a Superior Court judge struck down Sonoma County's marijuana dispensary ordinance last December. The ruling is under appeal.Sonoma County Supervisor Mike Kerns said he doesn't see the county taking on marijuana taxes in the near future. It's premature to act before state voters decide on the matter — and before the appeals case on the county's dispensary ordinance is settled, he said.As a former cop, Kerns also has concerns about legalizing a “gateway drug” that could lead to more problems.Still other local leaders are more open to the idea. Santa Rosa City Councilman Gary Wysocky said he would be interested in looking at marijuana businesses as part of an overhaul of business license fees or in addition to other “sin taxes.”“If it was legal, it should be taxed just like alcohol and tobacco,” he said.Other cities have already cashed in from marijuana sales. Last year, Oakland became first U.S. city to impose a local tax on medical marijuana dispensaries.Berkeley leaders have recently discussed implementing taxes on recreational and medical use of the drug.Discussions in Sebastopol are very much in the early stage. Councilman Guy Wilson said he is open to all intelligent ideas to raise revenue, but is not convinced that allowing recreational marijuana sales would be worth the burdens to the system.“I am not convinced we have to do something right now,” he said.Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)Author: Sam Scott, The Press DemocratPublished: Monday, June 14, 2010 Copyright: 2010 The Press DemocratContact: letters pressdemo.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #8 posted by IIzzaacc on June 18, 2010 at 17:47:29 PT:
Gateway Drug
saying that pot is a gateway drug is a joke because i started smoking pot because i started to not like how alcohol made feel during and after. alcohol is more of a gate substance; but i guess alcohol is not a drug; oh wait alcohol does alter your reality as much if not more the pot.
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Comment #7 posted by Paint with light on June 18, 2010 at 15:01:30 PT
sounds like it would work
I believe we have to accept some sort of regulation temporarily to get closer to free as it should be.I think you have thought out some of the details very well.The details seem to be the logjam that is appearing in several states.A lower tax on hemp would help spur that industry along."I think it would be difficult to create a separate untaxed medical production channel. The easiest thing would be to issue patients ID cards to be shown at the point of sale and they would pay no sales tax."In Tennessee they were making a point that medical grade cannabis should be grown, handled, packaged and sold in a way that reduces the exposure to mold.Patients in which that is a concern could buy a product that has met medical guidelines and is labeled as such.I like a medical card of some kind giving you a tax free status.I think we both agree....Legal like a start.
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Comment #6 posted by EAH on June 16, 2010 at 19:50:58 PT:
I meant to say "not exceed 10% of the retail price".I only say that because different states have set different excise tax rates for tobacco and alcohol and the highest excise tax for cannabis shouldn't exceed 10% in any state. Because cannabis is not represented by powerful lobbies,
politicians are going to feel more able to seek higher rates. However if the rates are to high it will create lots of non-compliance so they will have to not be stupid about it. I personally think that the almost total control of alcohol by states is outdated in this modern world, but it's the 21st amendment so it will probably never change. It looks like cannabis going to be state by state too.When alcohol products are ready to be bottled and sold they are tested for content. Wines for example vary quite a bit, even the same wine year to year.
Excise taxes are based on content, the more alcohol in the bottle the higher the tax. If they taxed by volume nobody would make beer or wine. Why pay the same tax on a low content product as a high one? If cannabis were excise taxed by weight, as a grower I would simply make all my production into the highest concentrate I could, like bubble hash. That would pack the most THC into the lowest possible weight. That's a really stupid way to tax it if your are the government.Producers of finished cannabis products would get their products tested at the point it ready for packaging and pay excise taxes based on that. They are also going to have to be able to produce fairly consistent products. To really work as a normal product in our economy cannabis is really going to have to be a lot like beer and wine with some larger producers doing volume and smaller ones doing gourmet quality.Lower priced commercial product would be likely to fall into a content range as would high quality dried flower product for smoking or vaporizing. Concentrates would be in a whole separate category. Eatables and liquids another. There could easily be a half dozen or more tax rates. Product labeling would have to show the content and the market would sort out prices probably fairly quickly.I think it would be difficult to create a separate untaxed medical production
channel. The easiest thing would be to issue patients ID cards to be shown at the point of sale and they would pay no sales tax.Proper processing, vacuum packaging or nitrogen packing and even refrigeration would add a lot of shelf life, but it would make sense to have sell by or use by dates. Remember produced legally and openly without all the current stealth and limited scale, cannabis prices could easily come way down to relative parity with alcohol. It's a very productive plant, current prohibition prices have everything to do with how difficult, costly, and risky it is to produce.
When a master grower can secure acres, with full access to sun and water,
hire agricultural workers at fair normal pay, it won't be difficult to produce hundreds of A+ pounds. That could easily result in $20 oz's of fantastic quality.
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Comment #5 posted by Paint with light on June 16, 2010 at 00:04:26 PT
I have agreed with your proposal before and have made similar ones.10% seems a little high but I am okay with that if it stops getting people arrested.I would also like to see zero tax on medicine.Some serious questions I have asked before are;How is the THC determined?Is it from a sample from each part of each plant, or one plant sample from the bunch.?THC content varies among different parts of the plant if I understand correctly.If cannabis sits on the shelf and loses some potency, is there then a different tax applied?Legal like alcohol.
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Comment #4 posted by Paint with light on June 15, 2010 at 23:46:45 PT
"As a former cop, Kerns also has concerns about legalizing a “gateway drug” that could lead to more problems."His concerns are not based in fact.I have noticed that cops are a "gateway" to people committing crimes. If you notice everyone who is charged with a serious crime started with getting arrested by a cop.Therefore cops cause crime.Direct link.Legal like cops.
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Comment #3 posted by EAH on June 15, 2010 at 18:33:10 PT:
get real
Both alcohol and tobacco are subject to excise taxes. If cannabis needs to be excise taxed to be legalized in the same way as them, that's fine. The thing is that excise taxes are very low on those products. In CA the excise tax on a GALLON of wine 
(4+bottles) is $0.20! That's 5 cents a bottle! The politicians have got crazy ideas about a cannabis excise tax. To be fair and reasonable, and to ensure voluntary compliance it needs to be based on THC content not weight or volume. It should exceed 10% of the retail price. The single biggest problem with setting a cannabis excise tax is that politicians know nothing at all about cannabis. Setting an excise tax should not in any way be based on prohibition valuations. Also there is no cannabis producer or distributor or labor organizations to lobby politicians for fair taxes like other industries have. If cannabis is going to be just another industry and business interest then policy making has to be in line with what other industries deal with. Also, there has to be allowable amounts set that when produced at home for noncommercial use are not taxed, just like beer and wine. This shouldn't be hard, since it has been done before for plenty of other things
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Comment #2 posted by mykeyb420 on June 15, 2010 at 09:57:13 PT
here in Calif,,,we ALREADY tax pot... its called SALES people want to add an additional TAX on it,,just to make it quasi-legal?? NO NO NOa tax to buy it and now a tax to use it?? and STILL the feds can come in an take it if they wanted to,,and the state WON'T back us up
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Comment #1 posted by afterburner on June 14, 2010 at 22:05:09 PT
Why not 53% of Canadians say they want? 
CN QU: Column: A Way For Government To Deal With Dope, Montreal Gazette, (12 Jun 2010) not?Why not take it out of the hands of criminals?Why not end prohibition?Why not end the gang violence?Why not protect the children?Why not end the racist pogrom?Why not learn from history (the failure of alcohol prohibition)?Why not listen to the research commissions for a change?Why not stop pouring scarce dollars into futile whack-a-mole enforcement efforts?Why not?Legalize it! Don't criticize it!
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