Oakland Voters Approve Taxing Cannabis Dispensaries; Measure Expected to Produce $300,000 Annual Revenue for Essential Services

Press Release July 21, 2009
Media Contact

Laura Thomas at 415-283-6366 or Tommy McDonald

Efforts to tax cannabis to generate revenue for California’s sagging coffers received a boost last night as Oakland voters approved Measure F by 80 percent.

Measure F adds a 1.8 percent gross receipts tax to medical cannabis dispensaries, producing nearly $300,000 in annual revenue. Early returns showed Measure F passing by the largest margin of all of the revenue measures on Tuesday’s ballot. The tax will go into effect in January 2010.

“Oakland voters know a good idea when they see one,” said Laura Thomas, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Once again, Oakland voters are ahead of the curve, but we hope the state will catch up with them soon. The politicians need to listen to the voters.”

Medical cannabis dispensaries in Los Angeles and other communities also are pushing for new taxes, and should be recognized as a revenue source. Dispensaries already contribute payroll taxes, sales taxes, and licensing and other fees to government coffers.

Marijuana sales have the potential to raise millions for California if regulated and taxed. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a bill (AB 390) where California would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. Recent estimates from the state Board of Equalization showed a possible $1.4 billion annual revenue stream.

“Taxing medical marijuana is a no brainer and fiscally makes sense for a cash-strapped state like California. But this is the tip of the iceberg,” added Thomas. “Once Californians see the benefits of taxing and regulating medical marijuana in Oakland, the next logical step is to tax and regulate all marijuana use across the state.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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