CALIFORNIA’S LEGAL POT MARKET IS SET TO GO LIVE IN 2018, BUT UNDEFINED REGS AND A 45% TAX HIT MAKE GETTING A MEDICAL MARIJUANA CARD A SMARTER ROUTE
While California’s statewide recreational weed market is on the verge of an epic grand opening, formation of the system continues to be fraught with loads of issues. No small undertaking for either state or local bodies, many towns and counties are still contending with how to effectively implement the regulations of Prop 64. Whether you choose to shop medically or recreationally, know that there will be pros and cons either way.
As the Golden State counts down to recreational marijuana sales in 2018, forecasters are estimating big revenues — potentially as much as $5 billion annually. That means Uncle Sam will want his cut, reaching deep into pockets for a taste on every dollar spent of store bought, rec pot.
Research agency Fitch Ratings revealed that proposed taxes for recreational weed include a 15 percent state excise tax and state growing taxes of $9.25 per ounce for cannabis flower, as well as state and local sales taxes ranging from 7.75 to 9.75 percent.
All said, that could be as much as a 45% tax hit for consumers in some parts of California.
Add to that the fact that California’s 58 counties — and 482 cities and localities — are moving agonizingly slow settling on the number and location of marijuana-related sites allowed within their boundaries. HelloMD says “the state isn’t even beginning to process applications until New Year’s Day. On Jan. 1, cannabis retailers will be anxiously waiting for an email from the state approving their temporary licenses.”
As legalization is proving to be a considerably messy affair, getting a Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) might be a smart alternative until the rec system is operating smoothly. You’ll have more shopping opportunities and product choices to choose from with dispensaries, at least for the first few months of 2018.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which manages the MMIC program, has a list of helpful FAQs to navigate procuring a card.
But while the CDPH says it “extends privacy protection to patients who hold an MMIC under the “Medical Marijuana Program Act” and provides privacy rights of patients similar to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), not everyone is convinced that this will be the case.
John C., an attorney living in Petaluma, California, says he’s opted to not get his medical card because he doesn’t want to “end up on a federal list somewhere, in the event that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wakes up one morning and decides that pot smokers are all evil people who should be punished,” he says. “I can’t afford to put my law license in jeopardy like that.”
Medical card holders are also in a legal gray area as far as firearm ownership in California. Last year, Forbes reported that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled drug use “raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.” Add to that what the ATF says about both obtaining an MMIC and owning a gun. ATF Form 1140-0020, which must be completed by all prospective gun purchasers, asks applicants if they are “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.”
Because cannabis is still federally illegal, anyone with a med card will have to check that box.
Still, if you aren’t deterred, there are considerable upsides to obtaining an MMIC, including legal possession of 8 oz. of flower (versus 1 oz. of flower with rec), treatment assistance from a medical doctor, and a big discount on the price of your herb sans those extra 45% taxes.
If you rely on cannabis to address health issues, getting an MMIC also ensures that you’ll have steady access to marijuana as California slowly transitions to legalization in 2018. And they’re as easy to get online as clicking right here at NuggMD.