Medical marijuana tax bills die as session nears end


Last update: August 23, 2016


Lawmakers this year rejected two attempts to establish taxes for medical marijuana patients and those who provide to them. Sen. Mark McGuire’s SB 987 and Assembly Member Jim Wood’s AB 2243 both would have imposed taxes on different parts of the system, ultimately increasing costs to patients. Neither is expected to advance this year. Several other marijuana-related bills, including a bill that would help address licensing problems in Los Angeles under the current law, and a so-called “cleanup bill” to address issues related to last year’s regulatory bills, remain under consideration.

Meanwhile, MPP is supporting the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), which will give voters the chance to end marijuana prohibition in 2016 and replace it with a more sensible system. Under the proposed initiative, marijuana would be regulated, taxed, and treated similarly to alcohol. Please support this initiative by donating to our campaign finance committee. All donations will go directly to the initiative to help ensure victory. For a quick overview of some of the key provisions of the AUMA, click here.

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The current legal status of marijuana in California


Under California law, possessing up to an ounce or less of marijuana is a civil infraction similar to a speeding ticket. While this is a more reasonable approach than many states take, California is still punishing tens of thousands of responsible adults for possessing a substance that is objectively safer than both alcohol and tobacco. A study released by the Drug Policy Foundation reports that despite the reduction in penalties, state law enforcement still arrested over half a million people in the past 10 years on marijuana-related charges, a huge number of which are minorities.

The report highlights one of the most tragic failures in the war on marijuana — how hard it impacts racial minorities. In 2013, the ACLU released its own report looking specifically at how African Americans are treated in the war on marijuana entitled, “The War on Marijuana in Black and White.” The report showed that where blacks represent 6.7% of the population in California, they account for 16.3% of the arrests (or citations) for marijuana, while rates of usage are virtually the same between black and white populations.

It is true that California’s marijuana laws are not as draconian as some other states, but the state is still wasting precious resources on citing, arresting, and prosecuting marijuana offenders, while ensuring the profits of marijuana sales go to criminals instead of responsible businesses and supporting the state budget.

Pending Legislation