Phil Ting Is a Buzz Kill, Talks About Extra Tax on Medical Marijuana

Categories: Marijuana
Thumbnail image for Phil Ting torso shot.JPG
What does he know about smoking pot?
Taxes are Phil Ting's business -- when the assessor-recorder isn't campaigning for San Francisco mayor, that is. But when Ting recently took stock of the Bay Area tax scene on medical marijuana, he realized that San Francisco could be bringing in more cash.

Every other major Bay Area city levies a gross-receipts tax on its medical marijuana dispensaries. And while every California medical cannabis club pays 9.5 percent in state sales taxes -- it's only in cities with a special tax including Los Angeles and San Jose, where local officials skim an extra five and seven percent off of the top.

And this is certainly paying off: San Jose hauled in $290,000 in its first month of taxing medical marijuana and Los Angeles is banking on exceeding that.

And that's way more than what S.F. is pulling in from medical marijuana.

Not only is San Francisco not getting any of this extra pot money, nobody's have even talked about doing a similar tax here. But Ting, being a numbers guys, didn't even have to do any math to realize that this kind of tax could help the city's $300 million budget deficit in a big way.

"On these types of issues, San Francisco tends to lead, and in this instance, we're way behind," says Ting, who said he's not officially backing a tax at this time. "It's a bit controversial, but we want to think out-of-the-box in these tough budget times."

This kind of tax would have to be approved by the voters. And you can bet it would stir up a hornet's nest of opposition among medical marijuana providers and patients who say a special pot tax is like robbing Peter to pay Paul's pension.

"The response will be overwhelmingly negative," says David Goldman, a patient advocate who sits on the city's Medical Cannabis Task Force.

In other words, what is Ting smoking?

Pot clubs are run as nonprofits, Goldman noted, so any increase in the cost of business must be passed onto customers: medical cannabis patients. "I hope you explain to your readers that all dispensaries would have to raise patients' prices -- it's a tax on patients. It punishes the people who have to pay for medicine, that's all it is. It's just an outrage."

An outrage that nonetheless won nearly 60 percent of the vote in Los Angeles -- and if communities like that could be swayed, perhaps San Francisco could, too.

"At least we can have an honest dialogue," says Ting. "And since other folks have done this in other cities, we can flesh out some of the issues and see how those cities have done it."

As for the already brewing opposition? "I don't think this is a sacred cow," Ting says. "At least, I hope it's not a sacred cow."

But Goldman is calling Ting out on his uncommitted position. "If he didn't think it was a good idea, he wouldn't be bringing it up," he says. "[Medical cannabis] patients are a politically vulnerable minority, and we're being asked to help bail out the city in a time of economic crisis."

What a buzz kill that Ting is.

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7 comments
irene415
irene415

i know who im not voting for now.. 

rsteeb
rsteeb

Taxing medicine is unconscionable.  So is the prohibition of Earth's most beneficial plant species. 

The solution: TAXED Legal sales to ID-carrying adults wherever they can acquire beer, while granting tax exemption to patients with physician-certificated need for its therapeutic effects.

Make it so.

Kevin Reed
Kevin Reed

Creative ideas are one thing and should be encouraged; however, you can't point out that this tax craze has taken root in neighboring cities/counties and then call your idea creative. In part what makes San Francisco's approach to medical marijuana so great is the foundation of compassion and that the Board of Supervisors that drafted and approved the law took great precaution to ensure that this product was, for all intents and purposes, treated like a medication. Last time I checked, we don't tax medicine in this state unless the product is sold over the counter. Now, if you are suggesting that we remove all the barriers for patient entry, including the requirement to see physician, get a card, and subject themselves to government regulations... maybe it's worth a conversation. Until that time, or unless you are willing to remove the patient barriers, then leave the law as be. Surely there are other ways to raise revenue than forcing patients to pay a "sin" tax on medicine used pursuant to a doctor's recommendation. Kevin ReedPresident | The Green Cross

Kc Kimber
Kc Kimber

I wonder if these idiots realize that taxing cannabis is illegal per prop 215... the official ballot materials as presented to the voters state:(which can be used in court to establish voter intent) "Analysis of Proposition 215

by the Legislative Analyst

BACKGROUND

Under current state law, it is a crime to grow or possess marijuana, regardless of whether themarijuana is used to ease pain or other symptoms associated with illness. Criminal penalties vary,depending on the amount of marijuana involved. It is also a crime to transport, import into thestate, sell, or give away marijuana.

Licensed physicians and certain other health care providers routinely prescribe drugs for medicalpurposes, including relieving pain and easing symptoms accompanying illness. These drugs aredispensed by pharmacists. Both the physician and pharmacist are required to keep written recordsof the prescriptions.

PROPOSAL

This measure amends state law to allow persons to grow or possess marijuana for medical usewhen recommended by a physician. The measure provides for the use of marijuana when aphysician has determined that the person's health would benefit from its use in the treatment ofcancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or ''any other illnessfor which marijuana provides relief." The physician's recommendation may be oral or written. Noprescriptions or other record-keeping is required by the measure.

The measure also allows caregivers to grow and possess marijuana for a person for whom themarijuana is recommended. The measure states that no physician shall be punished for havingrecommended marijuana for medical purposes. Furthermore, the measure specifies that it is notintended to overrule any law that prohibits the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes.

FISCAL EFFECT

Because the measure specifies that growing and possessing marijuana is restricted to medicaluses when recommended by a physician, and does not change other legal prohibitions onmarijuana, this measure would probably have no significant state or local fiscal effect."

WHAT PART OF NO STATE OR LOCAL FISCAL EFFECT DO THEY NOT UNDERSTAND. It is illegal to tax medicine in Caliornia.. Furthermore the BOE has this to say about herbs

"Herbal    productsFor purposes of the food products exemption a product’s labeling does not determine that it is a medicine and may be disqualified from the food products exemption. If a product does not meet the definition of medicine, as provided in Regulation 1591, Medicines and Medical Devices, it may still be considered a food product for human consumption (food items that people eat). This is true even if medicinal claims are made on the product’s label or product brochures.If an herb is sold in cut leaf form the herb cannot be considered a supplement or additive, regardless of what is written on the label because it is not in one of the forms listed in Regulation 1602, Food Products. Only a dried herb that is ground or crushed into fine particles should be considered a powder. For such an herb to be considered sold as a supplement or additive, it must either be: •  Labeled as a supplement or additive, or •  Prescribed or designed to meet specific dietary deficiencies or increase or decrease vitamins, proteins, minerals, or caloric intake.So, if the herb is not described on its package or label as a food supplement, food additive, dietary supplement, or dietary additive, the herb is a food product, the sale of which is exempt from tax."

Thus only kief and hash can be taxed...

Sources:http://vote96.sos.ca.gov/bp/21...

www.boe.ca.gov/sptaxprog/pdf/l...

Kevinreed
Kevinreed

 Creative ideas are one thing and should be encouraged; however, you can't point out that this tax craze has taken root in neighboring cities/counties and then call your idea creative.  

In part what makes San Francisco's approach to medical marijuana so great is the foundation of compassion and that the Board of Supervisors that drafted and approved the law took great precaution to ensure that this product was, for all intents and purposes, treated like a medication.  

Last time I checked, we don't tax medicine in this state unless the product is sold over the counter.  Now, if you are suggesting that we remove all the barriers for patient entry, including the requirement to see physician, get a card, and subject themselves to government regulations... maybe it's worth a conversation.  Until that time, or unless you are willing to remove the patient barriers, then leave the law as be.  

Surely there are other ways to raise revenue than forcing patients to pay a "sin" tax on medicine used pursuant to a doctor's recommendation. 

Kevin ReedPresident | The Green Cross1230 Market Street #419San Francisco, CA 94102Office: 1.415.648.4420Fax: 1.415.431.2420Email: kevinreed@thegreencross.orgWeb: www.thegreencross.org

Phil Ting
Phil Ting

In these economic times, we need to look for additional sources of revenue. And in response to David, I think we should seriously consider it - but we need to first bring it into the discussion as a potential idea. 

To help close the city’s $306 million deficit, we need creative ideas. We need new ideas. And that’s why I think this tax should be part of the conversation.

palmspringsbum
palmspringsbum

I didn't count the number of times you referred to medical marijuana as pot, but about halfway through the article I got tired of reading about "pot shops" and didn't bother to finish.

I think you should think out of the box and think of marijuana as medicine. 

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