Jul 29 2009

Oaksterdamn U wants to tax marijuana without limit

Posted by J. Craig Canada in Examiner.com, legalization, richard lee, tax
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Richard Lee of Oaksterdam U

On the heels of The Gang of Four’s stunning victory to tax money the sick and dying spend for medicine, Oaksterdam U has announced filing of their “Tax Cannabis 2010” initiative. 

Richard Lee owns Oaksterdam U as well as one of the four licensed dispensaries in the city of Oakland, Coffee Shop SR-71.

A copy of the “official” version of the initiative is not yet available on their website, though they state that Draft 14 is the version to be submitted on 27 Jul 09.

That patients are already paying for a doctor to get a recommendation, and state ID cards, and that many of them subsist on Social Security Disability, that they are by far the heaviest “consumers”, and that their medicine is not covered by any prescription drug plan – this is not enough for the professors at Oaksterdamn U.

Not only did they manage through fourteen drafts to fail to exclude medical marijuana patients from the tax or any other provisions in the initiative, but they intend to ban dispensaries in towns that decide taxing money the sick and dying spend on medicine is wrong.

Section 2, Findings, Intents, and Purposes

A. Findings, item 7:

Ensure that if a city decides not to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis, that buying and selling cannabis within that city’s limits remain illegal, but that the city’s citizens still have the right to possess and consume small amounts.

California’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996 has an “any other clause” which allows doctors to recommend cannabis for any condition for which it provides relief.

Oaksterdamn U’s “any other” clause instructs the government to tax and license marijuana in every possible way “without limitation”.  I sat in shock and awe for fifteen minutes when I read the phrase “without limitation”.  Why would anyone give the government explicit license to tax anything for any reason “without limitation”?

Section 11302: Imposition and Collection of Taxes and Fees

(a) Any ordinance, regulation or other act adopted pursuant to section 11301 may include imposition of appropriate general, special or excise, transfer or transaction taxes, benefit assessments, or fees, on any activity authorized pursuant to such enactment, in order to permit the local government to raise revenue, or to recoup any direct or indirect costs associated with the authorized activity, or the permitting or licensing scheme, including without limitation: administration; applications and issuance of licenses or permits; inspection of licensed premises and other enforcement of ordinances adopted under section 11301, including enforcement against unauthorized activities.

In 2001 the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the Fortune 500 had sales in excess of the other 490 companies, i.e., they are the economy.  What will be the effect of  § 11302 (a) once the pharmaceutical lobby gets started on our elected and appointed officials?

There is little doubt the 434,000 signatures required to put Tax Cannabis 2010 on the ballot can be gathered.  Most Californian’s will probably sign anything that promises to legalize marijuana.

Tax Cannabis 2010 is a lose/lose proposition

Left unanswered is how taxing medicine legitimizes medical marijuana dispensaries, patients, the movement or anything or anyone else.

If, by some miracle, those who care about medical marijuana and marijuana legalization should prevail in pointing out the flaws of this initiative and it is defeated, then the media will declare it is a defeat for the legalization of marijuana rather than the defeat of a bad initiative.

Headlines across the country will declare “Marijuana Legalization Defeated in California”.

With a legal mandate to tax, license, administer, regulate, and police cannabis “without limitation” dangling before them, where is the incentive for any politician to support Tom Ammiano’s AB 390?  Who among them would choose ethics, morals, and common decency over greed?  And if Tax Cannabis 2010 should fail, they will use that as an excuse not to support AB 390.

More troubling is that as an initiative Tax Cannabis 2010 will be on the same level legally as The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and could well be used to carve exceptions or invalidate parts of it such that patients will be denied protections they currently enjoy.

One example is that Tax Cannabis 2010’s prohibition of sales of marijuana in cities that do not impose a local tax on it because it is medicine could mean that dispensaries and collectives currently serving medical marijuana patients would be forced to close.  It would put them in violation of state law and therefore subject to raid and prosecution by the federal government.

Tax Cannabis 2010’s prohibition of sales unless taxed will be of equal legal authority as Proposition 215’s prohibition against criminal sanctions for medical marijuana patients and their caregivers.  It could precipitate another Supreme Court showdown with the federal government over Proposition 215.  It could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Having a higher legal authority than acts of the state legislature, Tax Cannabis 2010 could be used to invalidate provisions in California Health & Safety code §§ 11362.7 – 11362.83 which were enacted as SB 420.

Ammiano’s Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act legalizes marijuana, removing all criminal and civil penalties for adult use, cultivation, transport, sale, and possession in the State of California.  It would set a state tax of $50 per ounce and would exempt medical patients from this tax.  The figure from the California State Board of Equalization of $1.4 billion to be realized from this tax was based on estimated “recreational” purchases, not “medical” purchases.  This is a distinction that seems to be totally lost on the media.

Ammiano’s AB 390 would, conceivably, also allow facilities that serve only patients.  This is something Tax Cannabis 2010 appears to prohibit when it demands that sales of marijuana in jurisdictions that do not levee taxes on such sales are prohibited.

Left unanswered by the sage professors at Oaksterdamn U, or anyone else, is what will happen when marijuana is reclassified at the federal level from Schedule I to Schedule II as proposed by Barney Frank’s Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, HR 2835.

When marijuana becomes Schedule II it can be prescribed by a physician and will meet the legal definition of medicine.  This should result in the state sales tax on medical marijuana being repealed.  But who will pay to get it repealed? And who will pay to get rid of the local taxes spawned by The Gang of Four’s Measure F?  Patients?  You don’t expect “recreational” users to pay for it, do you?

After a ten-year siege of Troy the Greeks built a hollow horse with a soldiers hidden inside.  They pretended to leave the horse as a gift and sailed away.  The Trojans pulled the horse into the city.  That night the soldiers from the horse opened the gates of the city, which allowed the rest of the Greek army to enter.  Troy was defeated.

The Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 is a Trojan Horse.

It is the new improved Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

For more info:
Green Cross issues press release condemning Oakland marijuana tax – examiner.com | 26 Jul 09
Pot activists file ballot measure in California – The Monterrey Herald | 28 Jul 09
Selling out the medical marijuana movement? – examiner.com | 24 Jul 09
Tax Prozac, not medical marijuana – examiner.com | 20 Jul 09
Medical marijuana and psychiatric conditions – examiner.com | 6 Jul 09

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