Bethany Klein on Sun, 11/05/2017

The sin tax has always been a big source of revenue for states from New York to California. Now, as marijuana use achieves greater acceptance and legalization efforts continue, California is taking advantage of a golden opportunity. A whole slew of new taxes seek to regulate every aspect of marijuana growth, use, and production.

Marijuana Is Legal, But It’s Also Pricey
In making marijuana use legal, the state of California is regulating the drug. From where it can be grown to how it’s incorporated into other products, such as being baked into cookies and brownies, the state is ensuring their fair cut. Already, residents are discovering the high taxes that come along with legalization.
For instance, a small bag of marijuana, just large enough to roll about six joints, will run consumers $35. Even that may seem costly, but that’s nothing compared to what will happen after the new taxes take effect. The same bag of high quality medical grade marijuana will cost between $50 and $60. That’s almost a 70% increase from taxes alone.

Other Uses For The Marijuana Plant To Be Taxed
It’s not just bags being sold for recreational smoking that will be taxed at a high rate. Even the smokable marijuana used specifically to treat medical problems will be subjected to the new higher taxes. Leaves, as well.
Typically, leaves are grown and gathered to collect cannabis oil, concentrates, and candies. Even though these substances aren’t smoked as a recreational drug, California taxes will be applied. By 2018, a trash bag full of leaves, which is generally sold for $50, will also be taxed with $44. That almost doubles the cost of a single bag.
In relative terms, the taxes on a seven or eight pound bag of marijuana would bring the total over the current market value by 5 or 6 times. This means a huge price hike from merchants down to consumers, making the cost of doing business too high to be worthwhile.

“All it would become is compost,” says Ryan Jennemann of THC Design in Los Angeles. Jennemann’s company uses the marijuana leaves to manufacture concentrated oils.
Like most people involved in the California marijuana trade, Ryan sees the tax hikes as another obstacle to marijuana legalization. While it may now be lawful to possess and sell the plant and its byproducts, state taxes discourage the business of marijuana distribution. By overtaxing the plant and its uses, California may be cutting off its own hand.

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