Citizen Advocates Kill Medical Cannabis Tax in California Grassroots action stopped a 10% excise tax on legal medicine
June 26, 2016 | Don Duncan
Medical cannabis patients scored a huge victory in California last week, when the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee rejected SB 987. That bill by Assembly Member Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) would have imposed a statewide excise tax of 10% on medical cannabis. The tax would have been in addition to existing sales tax, any new or existing taxes imposed by cities and counties, and any other taxes adopted by the state legislature.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) opposed SB 987 because it would have placed an unfair burden on legal medical cannabis patients. Thousands of ASA members sent emails, signed petitions, and made phone calls opposing the bill in response to our action alerts. Hundreds visited legislative offices in person to oppose the bill as part of our California Citizen Lobby Day in March. Those efforts paid off last Monday, when the committee voted 4 to 5 to kill SB 987.
This is just the latest example of grassroots action creating a positive outcome for California patients. ASA mobilized citizen advocates to defeat AB 2740 earlier this year. That bill by Assembly Member Evan Low (D-Cupertino) would have made it a crime for a legal medical cannabis patient to drive with even a tiny amount of cannabis detectable in his or her blood, even if there was no evidence of impairment. ASA members helped to sponsor and pass the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act (AB 258) last year. That bill by Assembly Member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) protects patients from discrimination in the organ transplant process and has already saved at least one life in California.
ASA has been working on medical cannabis bills in the state legislature since 2008, and opened a full time office in Sacramento 2012. We have helped to bring the patient’s voice to the table and scored some big victories for patients’ rights and safety. We have also helped to make the patients’ needs an important part of the ongoing conversations about licensing, regulation and taxation of medical cannabis. We need your ongoing participation and support to keep winning victories like these. Keep speaking up to lawmakers and showing up for our annual lobby day. And if you have not done so already, please join ASA today!
Heads Up… SB 987 is dead for now, but it may be back. The author has fifteen days to request a new vote in the committee. Reconsidering a bill is unusual, but the same committee that rejected SB 987 last week granted reconsideration to another medical cannabis tax bill (AB 2243) earlier this year. ASA has already reached out to the committee members who opposed SB 987 to shore up their opposition, just in case.