Senator McGuire introduces medical marijuana sales tax

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sacramento, CA – Today, Senator Mike McGuire introduced The Marijuana Value Tax Act, a bill that would place a 15 percent tax at the point of sale on medical marijuana.

“We made a commitment last year as we were working through the huge undertaking of setting statewide regulations for medical marijuana that we would follow up on a statewide excise tax,” Senator McGuire said. “This needed revenue will make our communities stronger by focusing on the impacts of cultivation and use of marijuana, including funding local law enforcement and neighborhood improvement programs, state parks, drug and alcohol treatment and environmental rehabilitation.”

The state Board of Equalization estimates the total sales of medical marijuana in California at well over $1 billion statewide, and they expect that to soar once the new rules and regulations that Senator McGuire authored last year begin to kick in. The 15 percent Marijuana Value Tax Act is expected to bring in over $100 million in new revenue, which will likely grow substantially in a short period of time.

Under SB 987, 30 percent of all revenue from the MVT will go to the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation to distribute via grant programs designed specifically for local agencies who oversee the regulation of cultivation, processing, manufacturing, distributing and sale of marijuana. The funds would be available to any city or county agency/department including law enforcement. Per the legislation, no more than 5 percent of these funds may be used for administration of the grant program by BMMR or the local agency. 

Additionally, 30 percent of funds will go to the state’s General Fund; 20 percent of all revenue from the MVT will go directly to State Parks for operations and to tackle their $1 billion deferred maintenance backlog; 10 percent to the California Natural Resource Agency for the restoration and remediation of public and private lands and watersheds damaged by marijuana cultivation; and 10 percent to counties for drug and alcohol treatment programs.

“Now that there is a long overdue regulatory framework put into place, it’s time to help fund the areas that are most affected by the cultivation – those communities that have long been paying the price of the negative effects of cultivation brought on by the ‘bad actors’ who destroy the environment and bring in crime,” Senator McGuire said.

While McGuire’s legislation would only apply to medical marijuana, the 15 percent excise tax rate mimics the tax rate that is in the leading recreational marijuana ballot initiative. Other states, including Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska already have sales taxes in place for medical marijuana. SB 987 also ensures that cities and counties will continue to be able to enact their own local taxes and fees.

Last year, North Coast Senator Mike McGuire passed SB 643 – The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act – that was part of a historic three-bill package covering every aspect of the commercial medical marijuana industry which will be regulated and subject to licensure.