I am flattered that San Jose is considering the same 10% tax on pot that I have proposed for the November ballot in Richmond. According to news stories, a City ordered poll found 66% of San Jose residents in support.
Not surprisingly, the marijuana dealers are in opposition, citing the impact on “patients.” If another drug dealer is reduced by tears tomorrow night by his compassion, I think I’ll puke.
For comparison, cigarettes are taxed $0.87 a pack by California and $1.01 per pack by the Feds. That’s about 40% and some places as high as 50%.
I realize that cigarettes haven’t been marketed as medicine for several decades, but within my lifetime they were pushed as a health aid by doctors, Ronald Reagan and even Santa Claus.
I hope the City Council will stand up to the Marijuana lobby and give the voters a chance to approve at least a 10% tax. That would fill a lot of potholes, hire a few cops and provide a lot of healthy activities for kids.
Controversy flares over San Jose proposals to tax pot, tighten police and firefighter pay
By John Woolfolk
Posted: 07/25/2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Updated: 07/26/2010 12:21:05 PM PDT
Armed with a recent poll suggesting two-thirds of San Jose residents would approve, city officials have recommended a November ballot measure calling for a tax on medicinal marijuana.
But the proposal — one of five possible measures the City Council will consider next month — drew fire from marijuana providers who say the 10 percent level is excessive. Critics also question the morality of taxing what they consider medicine.
"Ten percent is just ridiculous," said David Hodges, founder of the San Jose Cannabis Buyers Collective. Dozens of similar operations have sprouted in the past year since Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio proposed licensing and taxing medicinal marijuana operations.
Hodges said the proposal "would make San Jose the city with the highest medical cannabis tax rate in the state and put undue burden on patients." Users say local dispensaries charge about $45 on average for an eighth of an ounce.
The marijuana tax wasn't the only proposed measure drawing opposition. City police officers and firefighters on Friday said they would vigorously oppose a proposal by Mayor Chuck Reed to limit pay and benefit increases that outside arbitrators can award them when contract talks stall.
By contrast, polling on a marijuana tax found 66 percent in support. Respondents were polled on both a 3 percent tax rate, as Oliverio had initially suggested, and 10 percent.
Oliverio said he has no preference on the rate. "That's a great discussion for the council to have," he said.
The city is in the midst of developing a licensing scheme for medical marijuana outfits, including how many the city should permit, but it likely won't be complete until after the November election.
Complicating matters is a statewide initiative also on the November ballot to legalize recreational marijuana use. Marijuana remains illegal in federal law, though the Obama administration has said it would not bust operators complying with state laws.
City officials said it's hard to say how much a pot tax could generate.
Contact John Woolfolk at 408-975-9346.
San Jose Pot Tax Proposal Draws Heated Opposition
Updated 8:35 AM PDT, Mon, Jul 26, 2010
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San Jose city officials are recommending a ballot measure that would create a tax on pot, drawing opposition from medical marijuana proponents.
The ten percent medical marijuana tax, if approved, would give San Jose the highest medical cannabis tax in the state.
Read the San Jose medical cannabis tax proposal
The proposal is not sitting well with one of the city's most outspoken advocates. Cannabis activist Dave Hodges, who founded the city's first medical marijuana dispensary, says leveraging a ten percent tax on the city's clinics is "just ridiculous."
The proposal means San Jose would become the city with "the highest medical cannabis tax rate in the state and put undue burden on patients," Hodges told the Mercury News.
Oakland became the first city in the country to tax medical marijuana in 2009 when voters approved a 1.2 percent tax for collectives.
Other ballot measure proposals for San Jose voters would limit pay hikes that outside arbitrators can give police and firefighters when contract talks stall; would increase the city's sales tax by a quarter of a cent; and would reduce retirement benefits for new city workers.
The ballot measure proposals will be considered by the city council next month. August 3 is the deadline to get measures on the fall ballot.