Monday, August 3, 2009

Marijuana Tax Revenue Potential in California

Pot Tax Has $1.4B Potential in California

Proponents, Including Medical Marijuana Users, Say Untaxed Marijuana
Means Needed Revenue Is Going Up in Smoke

LOS ANGELES, August 2, 2009

By John Blackstone

Play CBS Video Video Medical Marijuana Debacle (2:17) -
http://www.cbsnews. com/video/ watch/?id= 5205364n& tag=related; photovideo

It's estimated that 14 Billion dollars worth of marijuana is sold
illegally in the state of California. However, making it legal would
bring in approximately 1.4 billion dollars a year. John Blackstone

(CBS) There is talk in California of what you could call a radical idea
for the cash-poor state to raise money. It's controversial, but
proponents say the plan could smoke out more than a billion dollars for
the state, as CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports.

It is an unusual commercial: taxpayers demanding a new tax. It's an
offer by marijuana users to help the state's battered budget.

"We're marijuana consumers. We want to pay our fair share."

It's estimated that $14 billion worth of marijuana is sold illegally in
the state. Making it legal and taxing it at $50 dollars an ounce would
bring in approximately $1.4 billion a year. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has
been pushing the idea.

"I thought it was high time - no pun intended - that this was on the
table," he said.

As many see it, marijuana is already virtually legal in California where
state law allows it for medical use.

At one Los Angeles dispensary, The Farmacy, the cannabis comes in buds
so you can smoke it of course, but you don't have to. There's also
cookies and candy bars, also drinks with cannabis as the active
ingredient, and gelato - so you can take your medicine like ice cream or

One dispensary gave out free pot to anyone with a valid prescription.
The line was out the door.

While many doctors say marijuana has valid medical uses, like treating
nausea in chemotherapy patients, critics say California's medical
marijuana dispensaries sell the drug to almost anyone.

"That system is a sham," said Bernard Melekian of the California Police
Chiefs Association. "98 percent of the people who are acquiring
marijuana at these dispensaries do not appear to have the conditions for
which the law was intended to apply."

At a dispensary in L.A., users claim a wide array of ailments - chronic
neck pain, an ankle injury that required 10 screws and a metal plate,
and so forth.

In Oakland, a patient named Charles says marijuana is good for his
mental health. "It relieves my anxiety and allows me to cope," he said.

Users in Oakland now pay a special city tax on medical marijuana - a
first in the state, but maybe not the last. Marijuana tax promoters say
a lot of potential revenue is just going up in smoke.

http://www.cbsnews. com/stories/ 2009/08/02/ eveningnews/ main5205369. shtml

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