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High Time For a Medical Marijuana Tax? Former GOP State Senator Thinks So

SACRAMENTO (KPIX 5) -- A former tax-fighting Republican state senator now thinks it's time to slap an excise tax on sales of medical marijuana.

George Runner, now vice-chair of the state Board of Equalization, says he continues to oppose legalizing marijuana for recreational use. But he thinks the estimated $3 billion medical marijuana industry should be paying more in the way of taxes.

Runner told KCBS Thursday morning his epiphany came when he visited the so-called "Emerald Triangle", the state's hotbed of legal and illegal cannabis cultivation.

"There are increased law enforcement costs and tremendous environmental issues" associated with pot growing, Runner said. "Why should all taxpayers be paying for this out of the General Fund?"

California already taxes medical marijuana. It's subject to the state sales tax, and sales of medical pot are estimated to generate as much as $109 million a year in revenue.

Runner is pushing state legislators to add an excise tax which would be distributed to local governments in areas with a major marijuana-growing presence. Such a tax would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

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