Pubdate: Fri, 22 Apr 2016
Source: Ukiah Daily Journal, The (CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Ukiah Daily Journal
Author: Adam Randall


A state Assembly Bill that could eventually impose a medical 
marijuana excise tax to collect an estimated $77 million annually 
moved forward Thursday.

AB 2243 by Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, cleared the Assembly 
Revenue and Tax Committee without Republican support. It is expected 
to be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in the next 
two weeks.

If moved forward to Gov. Jerry Brown for final approval, Wood said AB 
2243 would implement a $9.25 per ounce tax on cannabis flowers, a 
$2.75 per ounce tax on cannabis leaves and a $1.25 tax on immature 
cannabis plants from nurseries.

The collection model is based on what Wood calls a tiered approach, 
similar to the way alcohol is taxed, which depends on the potency of 
the product.

The excise tax differs from another cannabis tax being proposed by 
North Coast Sen. Mike McGuire.

McGuire's tax would be collected during the point of sale of products 
for consumers, whereas Wood's proposal would be to collect at the 
distributor level, a Wood staffer said.

"An excise tax will ensure the revenue stays in the communities where 
cannabis is grown," Wood said in a statement. "Our goal is to create 
resources to manage the environmental and public safety problems we 
are battling."

The state's Board of Equalization, which would be tasked with 
collecting the revenue, estimated it at $77 million a year.

Currently, the bill would designate 30 percent of the revenue for the 
Natural Resources Agency to fund a grant program for environmental 
cleanup and restoration on public and private lands, 30 percent 
toward local law enforcement, 30 percent to fund the multi-agency 
Watershed Enforcement Team and 10 percent for research on the medical 
marijuana industry.

Wood said his tax follows the passage of the Medical Marijuana 
Regulation and Safety Act, which became law Jan. 1, and provides for 
total regulation of the medical marijuana industry.

The excise tax was originally proposed last year as part of Wood's 
Marijuana Watershed Protection Act, which was included in the overall 
medical marijuana regulations passed, but the excise tax was 
eventually dropped from the legislation so the Medical Marijuana 
Regulation and Safety Act could move forward.

"This bill will give us much-needed resources to clean up our forests 
and streams and to make sure we keep the bad actors out of business," 
Wood stated.

While AB 2243 moved forward Thursday without Republican support, 
Wood's office noted any new state tax would require a two-thirds vote 
by both the Assembly and Senate. That means Republicans would have to 
support the bill in both houses for it to eventually move to the 
governor's desk for consideration.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom