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California Looks At Alternative Ways to Tax Marijuana

LAO report considers taxes on THC amount, amount of product sales

By Evan Symon, December 24, 2019 2:10 am

California currently taxes all marijuana twice.


According to a new report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, Marijuana sales should be taxed on THC content or total amount of sales.

Weight and Excise

The report goes on to say that all marijuana and cannabis taxes should be taxed at the point of sale rather than earlier on in cultivation and production.

Currently all marijuana is taxed in California twice: Once by the overall weight of marijuana that is grown, and again with a 15% excise tax when sold at a store.

The new recommendations come after a large rise in black market marijuana in California, a complicated marijuana tax structure, untested dangers in black market marijuana, and a growth in THC-infused foods.THC, which is the compound in marijuana that produces a ‘high’, has not yet been strictly targeted in general cannabis sales in California.

Black markets

“Most legal weed places in the state have wanted this for awhile now,” said Marijuana policy expert Ajay Laghari. “It’s not only about fighting back against black market marijuana dealers. No, this largely about safety too. Black market weed can have a lot of dangerous chemicals in it because you don’t know where it’s grown.”

“And there’s different THC levels in different types of marijuana. At a store, you know exactly what you’re getting and how much you can handle. Buying on the black market is a roll of the dice. It’s like if all cigarettes were marked simply as ‘cigarettes’. You don’t know if they’re filtered, or if they’re menthols, or if they’re low-tar, or if they’re simply herbal cigarettes. All you know is that you’re getting them and it can negatively affect you.”

“Taxing by THC levels makes total sense because prices can stabilize a bit, continue to give the consumer good info, and really come closer to black market or street sales.”

“Legal sellers could finally compete with them again.”

A tax on THC

Many lawmakers currently have copies of the report and may be taking action soon. With state cannabis taxes going up again on January 1st, a bump in black market sales is very likely. This is making the $0.006 and $0.009 per THC milligram tax replacing the weight tax more attractive to lawmakers.

“I’m unsure,” said Michael, who owns a legal cannabis shop in Los Angeles County. “If we change to THC, strictly THC, then that’s going to require a lot of testing. Weighing is really quicker.”

“But it also does make sense to me. Buying weed on the street – it can have a lot of stuff in it man. It could be fooling some kids with oregano or it could have angel dust on it. In a store you know what you’re getting.”

“It’s like buying moonshine. You don’t know how safely it’s made, and who knows, they could put rubbing alcohol in it and make you blind like what happened during prohibition.”

“Anything that makes it safer and lets us give customers a safer product is fine by me. More than fine really.”

If the tax is changed by lawmakers to a THC-based tax, California would be the first state in California with such a law.

Possible changes to the tax could come as soon as next year if the reports recommendations are acted upon.

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Evan Symon
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4 thoughts on “California Looks At Alternative Ways to Tax Marijuana

  1. Better yet, why not just make it all illegal & improve the quality of life in CA by not making its residents even dumber….
    Merry Christmas!

    1. I am weary of people who, rather than stay and fight for what was theirs, tucked tail and ran, and then sit on the sidelines disparaging those you left to carry your load. Besides, you can’t move away from it. It follows you. I have friends in Tennessee who left years ago, but have now had to move away from the triumphal mosque that was built down the street from them. Colorado is gone, Virginia is in deep trouble, and Texas is turning blue, all from the same leftist tactics that ruined California. Your house is burning. So, shut up and do something about it. Have you donated to Gun Owners of California, or supported the ongoing lawsuit against the CA assault weapons bans and handgun registry, or the lawsuits in New York? What have you done, other than run away? You’re running out of places to run.

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