Background: Difficult economic times have forced cash-strapped local and state governments to secure more creative sources of revenue. One such source is the taxation of medical cannabis. Starting off the trend, the California Board of Equalization (BOE) voted in 2005 to implement a policy that taxed the sale of medical cannabis. Since then, the BOE has collected millions of dollars from hundreds of dispensaries across California. Regardless of the financial windfall from taxing cannabis, sales taxes are inherently regressive and disproportionately impact “consumers,” in this case medical cannabis patients. Since then, other state and local governments have imposed taxes on medical cannabis.

Findings: Regressive sales taxes are harmful to patients and make medical cannabis more unaffordable than it already is. ASA has publicly opposed taxes on several grounds, including the hardship to patients, that prescribed medicines are non-taxable, and the real danger of self-incrimination. Taxes invariably and unintentionally restrict access to medical cannabis.

Position: Any tax on medical cannabis is a tax on patients. ASA opposes excessive taxes that are designed to raise revenue, but it does not oppose low-impact fee structures designed to offset administrative costs.