Voters in Oakland, California, approved by a wide margin a measure to tax medical marijuana sold at the city's four dispensaries. The measure is the first in the country to impose a special tax on medical marijuana.
The all mail-in vote took place during the one-month period beginning June 22, and the votes were being counted Tuesday night. According to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, the ballot measure, known as Measure F, passed with 80% of the vote.
The measure creates a special business tax rate on dispensaries of $18 for every $1,000 in gross sales and is expected to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for the city. Currently, the dispensaries are paying the same business tax rate as any other retail business in the city, $1.20 per $1,000. The measure will take effect on January 1.
The measure was part of a package of revenue measures before Oakland voters. All passed, but none by as large a margin as Measure F. That's just the latest sign of acceptance of marijuana in a very pot-friendly city. In 2004, voters there approved a measure requiring police to make arresting adults for small-time pot offenses their lowest priority.
"Oakland voters know a good idea when they see one," said Laura Thomas, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Once again, Oakland voters are ahead of the curve and we hope the rest of the state will follow their lead. The politicians need to listen to the wisdom of the voters. Taxing medical marijuana is a no brainer and fiscally makes sense for a cash-strapped state like California. But this is the tip of the iceberg," added Thomas. "Once Californians see the benefits of taxing and regulating medical marijuana in Oakland, the next logical step is to tax and regulate all marijuana revenue across the state."