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Medical Marijuana Could See 15 Percent Sales Tax

SACRAMENTO (CBS) -- A California legislator proposed a 15 percent tax on the retail sales of medical marijuana with the introduction of a new bill Wednesday.

State Senator Mike McGuire, who represents residents from Marin County north to the Oregon border, including counties famous for leading the marijuana growing industry, such as Humboldt, Mendocino and Sonoma counties, proposed The Marijuana Value Tax Act Wednesday in order to impose an excise tax that could potentially bring in over $100 million each year to the state.

"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," McGuire said in a statement Wednesday.

The proposed tax is twice the current state retail tax of 7.5 percent.

Currently, groceries and prescription drugs are exempt from state sales tax and medical marijuana would be the first prescription drug in California to be taxed.

The bill requires a two-thirds vote to pass.

If passed, about a third of the revenue collected would go to the state's General Fund, while another third would got to the new state agency charged with enforcing medical marijuana licensing regulations, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation. The bureau would then be charged with distributing the funds as grants to help local governments with the costs of enforcing marijuana licensing regulations.

Twenty percent of the excise tax revenue would got toward running and maintaining state parks, which have a $1 billion deferred maintenance backlog, according to McGuire.

Ten percent would go to the California Natural Resource Agency and be designated for the restoration and remediation of public and private lands and watersheds damaged by marijuana cultivation.

The final ten percent would go toward county substance abuse programs.

The Marijuana Value Tax Act comes on the heels of the passage of McGuire's Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, part of a historic three-bill package regulating many aspects of the commercial medical marijuana industry in California.

"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," McGuire said Wednesday.

By Hannah Albarazi - Follow her on Twitter

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