Ben Franklin famously said that, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” and frankly, it’s pretty hard to decide which is less popular in today’s climate. Despite the budget deficits that have plagued San Jose for almost a decade, the city would be hard-pressed to raise taxes on just about anything in this financial climate, whether it is property, sales tax, or booze and cigarettes.
City Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio does have one idea. He wants the city to start taxing medical marijuana, and he wants the tax to be as high as 10 percent. Oakland already taxes medi-pot, and Berkeley is considering it as well. Now San Jose will have to decide whether it will join the ranks of cities that tax pot too. In November, residents will weigh in on Measure U, the “Medical Marijuana Ordinance,” which taxes every stage of the medical marijuana industry, from planting to processing to wholesale and retail.
Oliverio claims that “This is the only type of tax that would pass in this environment. We tax alcohol, we tax cigarettes … this would fall into the same category.” Estimates are that a medical marijuana tax could bring in tens of millions of dollars to a city that is rapidly running out of services to cut.
But taxes—any taxes—are unpopular, and Measure U has its share of opponents. Americans for Safe Access, for instance, argues that any tax over 3 percent would be a strain on patients, who would turn to the black market for their pot instead. “It is is wrong and immoral to tax the sick and suffering,” they say on their website, and point out that, “This will be the highest medical marijuana tax in the country.” Oakland, for instance, which initiated the tax, only taxes at a rate of 1.2 percent. Dave Hodges, who founded the city’s first medical marijuana dispensary, calls the tax “ridiculous.”
That leaves the decision to the voters.
Read More at NBC Bay Area.