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Washington, DC — Americans for Safe Access urges California Governor Gavin Newsom to sign SB 34, Cannabis: Donations, which passed in the California state legislature on September 11, 2019. SB 34 would exempt medical cannabis from California state taxes. Governor Newsom has until October 13, 2019 to sign or veto the bill.
When California became the first state in the nation to develop a medical cannabis program in 1996, it was centered around compassion and access to medicine, not commercialization. Since the passage of the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), nonprofit medical operators have suffered the unintended consequence of being faced with a tremendous tax burden based on the amount of cannabis they distribute, even if it was given away for free. Due to AUMA, nonprofit providers face taxes of up to $1,000 per pound for the cannabis they distribute free of charge, even if they do not have an operating budget and are volunteer-run organizations. Many medical cannabis storefronts closed as a result, causing a dearth of affordable cannabis products for patients.
SB 34 would rectify this problem by allowing patients with limited resources to receive donated medical cannabis and by exempting that donated cannabis from certain state taxes, including the steep excise tax.
“SB 34 would help countless individuals who are struggling with both debilitating conditions and the affordability of the cannabis they need to treat those conditions,” said Americans for Safe Access’ Regulatory Affairs Coordinator Sean Khalepari. “We call on Governor Newsom to sign this bill into law without delay to alleviate their suffering.”
According to a survey conducted by Americans for Safe Access, 88% of respondents indicated that the affordability of medicine was the biggest challenge they face.