California: Oakland Voters Approve Nation’s First Marijuana Business Tax

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory.] Oakland voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the nation’s first ever business tax on retail marijuana sales.
According to preliminary election results, approximately 80 percent of Oakland voters approved the new tax (which appeared on the ballot as Measure F), which imposes an additional tax for “cannabis businesses” of $18 for every $1,000 of gross receipts beginning January 1, 2010.
Presently, Oakland’s medical cannabis dispensaries are taxed at the same rate as other retail sales businesses ($60 per year for the $50,000 of gross receipts, plus $1.20 for each additional $100,000).
Four dispensaries are licensed by the Oakland City Council to sell and dispense medical marijuana.
According to a financial analysis by the Oakland City Auditor, Oakland’s new cannabis business tax will generate an estimated $300,000 in additional annual tax revenue.
Representatives from the Oakland City Council, the California Nurses Association, and the dispensary community publicly advocated for the new tax, which had no formal opposition.
“The passage of this first-in-the-nation tax further legitimizes cannabis-based enterprises in Oakland and elsewhere,” NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said. “These outlets are contributing to the health and welfare of their local communities, both socially and now economically. At a time when many municipalities  are strapped for tax revenues and cutting public services it is likely that public officials in other cities will begin considering similar proposals.”

0 thoughts

  1. See, when we say we want to help our communities by paying our fair share of taxes we mean it. Oakland will be the first city in the USA to reap the monitory blessings of cannabis sales. Why to go!

  2. Way to go Oakland & NORML. I just saw this on CNN and said, let me check out, and low and behold, it’s front page news!
    One step closer!

  3. Amazing news, hopefully the whole state follows along with other states. When they see how much revenue this produces they would be stupid to not legalize during these hard economic times!

  4. Now all we have to do is work on New Jersey. The WORST state in the country against marijuana business of ANY kind. I am a very ill man with extensive GI disorders anoung other health problems. It’s bad enough dealing with legal worries, but I also get urine tested randomly at work so I am totally out of luck. NO RELIEF in site. And I’m only a plumber! HELP US GOD!!!

  5. Nice to see ppl finally moving toward a “war on drug” free world. We need to continue this and all efforts to end the persecution of the new age minority and work together to make this a peaceful world. Let the ppl decide what is right, let the governments support that. Sadly in this time the only way to change the world is to show them that they can make money without having to persecute ppl. And this is truly a first step. Ty to all who voted on this first step to sanity!

  6. It doesn’t seem right that medical cannabis dispensaries are singled out to pay a surtax above and beyond the norm. Does Walgreeens or CVS or any pharmacy get hit with extra surtaxes just because they sell medicatons? No. So why penalize cannabis dispensaries? Just because they sell cannabis and not Vicodin? There is something wrong with this picture.

  7. In the end this surtax will be passed down to the patient as increased cost of meds. Cannabis patients are suffering enough. They should not be punished with this new tax.

  8. Man I wish I could move back to CA! You know, this sets a Precedent! We still have a long hard fight ahead in other parts of the country, especially in the backward-ass state of KY where I live, but it is heartening to know that the reform is gaining momentum! Congrats to all that fought so hard for this. If I could help in any way I would. I am with you in spirit until I can find a way to help in a concrete way.

  9. They should just make marijuana legal in California and then tax it… This would help California get some extra revenue.

  10. Ah, the news I’ve been waiting for. I must’ve subconsciously known the news finally broke–that’s why I woke in the wee hours of the ‘morn. Actually, I have really screwed up sleep cycles that could benefit from some cannabis, but I have no sources, and med MJ in my state would frown on chronic insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns as a reason for using the herb.
    I am not a second-class citizen (and not because I haven’t partaken in years). Stop unnecessarily trying to legislate morality! The founding fathers and Lincoln and others would be outraged over the tyranny of mind and body the citizenry have endured over the past 70+ years, all over a plant!
    If science and facts showed cannabis to be such a pernicious substance that melted the brains and physiology of people beyond hope, redemption, and repair, I’d be the first to say ban the vile weed; however, reality shows it to be anything such. There are plenty of legal substances that are a better match to the description above.
    I do not advocate prohibition of any substance that anyone wants to put into their body–one’s life, and the health and length of it, are one’s business and choice–the domain of no other. Yes, one does have a responsibility to society, if one enjoys the fruit of that society: a person’s actions should not unreasonably harm and endanger others and should try to promote the overall welfare of the body public. That said, government should never intrude into private affairs, should never try to dictate a mode of living. If people want to toke up and get fat and lazy from eating too much, what of it? Oh wait, we as a nation are pretty much fat, and lazy, obviously, since we’ve based our economy for the past decade on pretty much smoke and mirrors instead of real work and industry. And guess what? It didn’t have anything to do with smoking a plant.
    Above I said one does have an obligation to society. I just want to point out to the prohibitionists that YOU are the ones not fulfilling your obligation, unreasonably harming and endangering others with your policies proven to be ineffective and harmful. If you really care for others, repent and give up your unreasonably moralizing, hypocritical ways.
    The health of our nation is rooted in the health of its citizens. The health of our citizens should be rooted in enlightened, fact-based compassion, not in moralizing, prejudicial prohibition and persecution. The body, mind, and spirit of our neighbors and ourselves should be nurtured–or repaired–by policies proven to work. Substance abuse should be a health issue, not a criminal one. Any policy or advocating thereof with no basis whatsoever in fact, only in conjecture, fear-mongering, and prejudice, should be prohibited. (Mind that I’m not for censoring freedom of thought and speech of individuals; I’m for limiting the harm that asinine officials can cause, simply for their un factually-based world view.)
    [ . . . Unfair and unreasonable policies antithetic to the spirit of the framers of the Declaration and the Constitution? Remember Thoreau. Peaceful civil disobedience as protest! Not that many of you readers really need any reminding of Thoreau . . . ]
    If you prohibitionists really care for myself and others, then you’d be smart and want legalization of cannabis and instead prohibit alcohol, tobacco, fast food, cars and their emissions, excess testosterone in young males . . . well, you would be smart in legalizing cannabis, but enough of my sarcasm.
    Well, I think I’ve uncluttered my spirit and mind sufficiently to get my early day going, so I’ll just end with a Well Done Oakland!

  11. This just in Chicago Suntimes, Unicorporated Cook Co. having less than 10 grams will get you a 200 dollor ticket. Leave it to Chicago Pols if they want to be re-elected

  12. Oh my GOD this news is amazing. I don’t live in CA, but this indeed sets a precedent! I hope this approval sets a trend for the rest of the country!

  13. I’m not at all sure that this sets a good example. Why should cannabis be taxed at rates higher than any other retail product? I commend the cannabis outlets for their sacrifice, but this special tax rate is hardly fair.

  14. Oaksterdam sounds like my dream place to live. If only more cities could be as amazing as theirs. Richard Lee is a hero. History is being written and it’s people like him that will be remembered for making the world a better place to live in.

  15. One small step for man ……One giant leap for mankind ! Florida are you getting this ?

  16. Thank you! I hope this spreads to other states, even ones where no form of cannabis has been legalized, such as big cities like New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. They should just decide they’re not pursuing law enforcement on cannabis and turnaround and tax it; those who pay the tax would always win if taken to court on grounds of double jeopardy, and as I recall there is a judicial law about this although I can’t recall the name of the court case right now. They could define the zoning along lines of the Dutch policy/gedoogbeleid. That would fill in points between cannabis friendly Boston and Washington, D.C. The east coast megalopolis is liberal enough to take the steps.
    It’s long overdue. Legalize now.

  17. Upon hearing the news, I was both shocked and relieved! Thank you Oakland!
    I live in what is often referred to as the “Bubble of Criminal Justice”, or Death Penalty Texas. I have a select number of friends that are activists for marijuana laws, and have told me time and time again that we would definitely see marijuana legalized in our lifetime. Living in this ‘bubble’ I seriously doubted these statements. I was so used to hearing that it was nearly impossible…there weren’t enough pot heads in the government…people are set in their ways… And this heard from professors, parents, community members, and fellow colleagues. Our bubble had us believing that we were the ‘norm’, and that everyone around the country thought like us. Hell, I had no idea what a dispensary was until I saw Marijuana Inc. on CNBC. And the Emerald Triangle?
    So of course I see now! And I understand what marijuana is, and how it works. I am surrounded by naive and ignorant individuals that only stick to what they know. Oakland is surely the door opening, that maybe one day, those that are ignorant can see the truth, and not judge others.

  18. WOW, Nice work Oakland , BUT… WE SHOULD legalize all hemp products PERIOD ! think of all the revenue from the many spin-off industries, textiles, food,delivery systems, tourisum, cultivation ,and the list goes on and on ! ppl would chill and crime would go down ! police would be free to pursue REAL CRIME ! AMERICA would be working again ! ITS A WIN WIN FOR THE GOOD OF AMERICA !END THE CRIME OF PROHIBITION NOW!

  19. YES! Go Cali! This could be the beginning of a domino effect throughout our country, one can only hope.

  20. If you operate a “legal” cooperative, or collective, which are the only two legally recognized entities in the State of California, you must be licensed by the State Franchise Tax Board, and the Board of Equalization. Retail sales tax of 1.8% is nothing new.
    Remember…we’re talking about medicinal use. Cannabis
    is not “LEGAL” yet…but it will be… come next year.
    This is a great shot at public awareness though.

  21. While I agree that this is a step forward for legalization, I am very saddened that a tax is being placed on medicine. I never had to pay a tax on my migraine meds. at Kaiser. Now that I’m not able to use either of those medicines, I’ll be paying a tax on my cannabis. Seems unfair. I agree, the cost will eventually be passed on to patents.

  22. Now if they would just legalize it for adult general use, look at the revinue just in tourism alone that it would bring into the state. Think about all the jobs it would create for the state. From restruants-fuel-hotels-motels all the amusment parks. And thats not counting the tax on all of these things. everybody would benifit. Kinda like stimulating there own economy. Just a thought.
    The Flintster

  23. Its about time they do something about this. Marijuana needs to be legalized just for the fact that it creates more problems by labeling users criminals. If that is so at least 15% of the USA citizens are criminals if not even more.

  24. I cant express enough how happy I am to see this I have been waiting for this for a long time and now its here! I am celebrating with a few bong rips right now LOL! Keep it up Cali! And NORML and Mr. Allen St. Pierre I cant thank you guys enough for sticking this war out with us I am so thankful for everything yall do.
    Mike H

  25. All this says is that patients are being asked to pay more. The only resulting benefit is increased public opinion for decrim/legalization as marijuana is seen as a vehicle for easing budget shortfalls.
    Short term it unfairly costs patients more.

  26. @ 34 Brian: Think about it in terms of smalls steps. First, it’s tax on medical marijuana – which shows that marijuana has medicinal value and a viable source for cash. Next, it’ll challenge the Control Substance Act of 1970, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic meaning it has NO medicinal value and is the same class as heroin. Obviously, people will then put out the huge discrepancy and will demand the government change it – either reschedule or *most likely* take it out all together and legalize it and regulate/tax it like alcohol and tobacco.
    We’re just taking it one step at a time – but Prohibition will end once in for all guaranteed.

  27. Hey lawmakers, governer, and general population of the non-mighty state of Kansas: Please take the straw shoot out of your mouth and your hand off your cousins ass and pay close attention to california.

  28. Prohibitionists and their ilk will make cannabis users pay dearly, bleeding them for every single cent to be had. If you think drug dealers are amoral, greedy profiteers, wait until the government tax man comes to collect. This is why the reason cannabis should be re-legalized is because not to do so, violates God’s will for people to live in freedom with liberty as acknowledged and cited in the Constitution of the United States. Please note this justification includes nothing about taxing consumption of the flowering tops of a common weed that is less addictive than coffee and less toxic than water.

  29. SUCKER’S, I got you now, as I tax you out of business and existence. You will see the true color’s of the greedy people, Oh, help me I can’t afford to keep my welfare state going, I know let’s hit the dope smoker’s in the pocket, LIKE, Cannabis is already to expensive, Where will you get the tax money if I grow my own?, Oh, I see if I grow my own I’m a criminal, Just because I chose to self medicate WITHOUT permission, Well, up yours, If I can’t be free with my weed, then the hell with all of you sheeple, bend over for the man to stick it to you and no lube. YOU’LL SEE. I’M RIGHT, USUALLY AM, don’t want to hear it when the sky is falling and you are under the gun, being told Because I said so that’s why, and then they take everything you thought you had, and now you live in a ditch off some highway in a box. Or in a cell with a number for a name. Don’t you know you as an American working in America, you are not liable for income tax and none of that money does anything for you or this country, only local an state sale’s and purchase tax is the only revenue the state get’s period… BAA,BAA, little sheep, now we have you where we want you, now we are going to eat you. PEACE!!! AL…

  30. Outstanding. I’ve been waiting to see what the outcome of this would be. Over 80 percent in favor. I hope other states take notice.

  31. I see people upset by this because it taxes sick people. I understand this but we have to show America this tax can really work. I agree its an unnessesary hardship on those who are sick. The answers are not easy here. Hopefull we could get this legal for everyone and have some equaliaztion on whats fair tax.The price of cannabis will drop when it fully legal for all. We will get there people.

  32. Besides, if it werent for legal med cannabis, all you sick folks would getting your med cannabis from a street dealer…illegally. Pros- cons?

  33. This is a big step toward public acceptance. Maybe it will be a bit tougher on patients for a while but think how much easier legalization would be for them???

  34. For those of you that think this is a negative thing or that it will effect the cost of medicine to patients keep this in mind….
    This tax is a business tax. A tax the cannabis dispensaries welcome. The consumer is not being taxed here. It will not cost the consumer a dime. If business owners were to try and recoup these taxes by raising the cost of the medicine then they would become non-competitive. This is a step forward for cannabis medicine consumers! We want communities to get a piece of the revenue stream from cannabis sales. Once people get a taste of cannabis tax dollars they will want to keep it and they will promote its benefits in other areas.

  35. It doesn’t seem right to tax something that is being used to medically make a persons life viable. It would make sense to just legalize the crap and tax it. Then move on form this bullcrap politics of moralizing others with your self as a model. Hypocritical azzholes that are obviously getting their kicks outta hurting others.

  36. I think we would all be willing to pay a tax that provided us with clean good quality medicine. If I were allowed to go to my local dispensary and purchase cannabis that I know how it was grown and by whom I would gladly pay a little tax on top of the price especially if I thought it was going to do my community some good. If this in anyway helps the cause of lifting cannabis prohibition then it is a step in the right direction. I don’t think sick people should be asked to do more than their fair share to support their city in tough times. If cannabis were legal for all to use then this would be a much better thing.

  37. For what it is worth, all the posts make sense. We need to get it legal for everyone!

  38. Way to go Oakland! Now maybe everybody will follow suit. I hope that the cannabis market becomes a legal market everywhere. I want to pay taxes, to help this country get out of dept, and to pay for new advancements in our society.
    Thank you NORML for this great news.

  39. To discuss one of the very valid points I see above, it was *my impression* that this was a TAX UPON THE BUSINESS, Not the PATIENT. That is how I understood it from the articles I read, so I hope THE REALITY of the tax is that it stays on the Business, and not the patient! Also, since I am not a Californian I have no way to know how things are done in practicality. I was under the impression that these dispensaries had a “not for profit” model, so that nobody got “shafted” on the price of their medicine, the business could survive, and the taxes were just “cream off the top”. In other words, the business won’t be making any more money, but the taxes will funnel into the system.
    I see this as a way of showing that the MM community is one of the most willing to help the economy along with helping the interested parties. As I see it nobody gets hurt – but if I am wrong, please respond so I can be fully informed. This is a great first step IMO. Let me know if I am wrong!

  40. LOL wow! For those of you freakin out about a tax being levied on medical cannabis. Ok ,I agree , cannabis should be free to all,it should be legal to all. But starting here and making it a legal buisness has to happen. If you dont like it,the easies thing for you to do is just go back getting it illegaly. I dont know bout the rest of ya,but once its legal, I will clean out a closet and grow myself one or two nice plants a year…Because I know how to. If I have to pay a small tax so be it. If the tax man gets greedy,well that falls back to the realm of the black market ..again. This will be a fine line to walk. Lets find the way to make this happen. Being inflexable here wont help.

  41. This doesn’t seem like good news to me. Seems like we’re having to unfairly pay even more money for our medicine. The medical marijuana dispensaries were ALREADY being taxed. Now they’re being taxed even more.

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