California’s Cannabis Legalization: Where are we now?

BENICIA (KRON) — Currently, there are 6,756 active seller’s permits issued for cannabis businesses in the state of California and each day more are added to the list.

For example in Benicia, with it’s population of 28,000 residents, the city council just approved for the first time in the city’s history, two retail shops and spots for manufacturing and growing cannabis.

“We are hopeful that our lower tax rate, geographic position in the Bay Area, adequate space, will attract diversity,” said City Councilman Steve Young.

Young says it is all about cashing in on the cannabis bandwagon.

Cities who welcome cannabis can tax the businesses and that helps pay for police, libraries and other vital services.

“We’re trying to diversify our tax base” he said.

As the saying goes, there are only two things you can count on in life, death and taxes, and some feel right now that the high tax on the cannabis industry is killing the spirit of the law.

“We know there is a black market out there, and we are trying to deal with that now,” said Assemblyman Rob Bonta.

Right now, there are as many as 9 bills at the state capital to tweek Proposition 64, which legalized adult recreational use of marijuana.

State Assemblyman Bonta from Alameda is throwing his support behind AB286. If passed, it would reduce the tax rate from 15 percent to 11 for three years.

“This will allow us to bring more into the legal and regulated market,” the assemblyman said.

The latest figures from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration report that in the first three quarters the state excise tax took in $234 million.

The fourth quarter is out in a few weeks. While that is significantly higher than zero dollars before Proposition 64 rolled in, some argue it is far lower than what was projected.

“Well, this is historic. We’re going from 80 years of prohibition — I would say it’s amazing, it’s doing incredibly well. That said, there are a lot of challenges they’re facing,” said cannabis attorney Patrick Goggin.

Goggin is an attorney who specializes in legal work surrounding cannabis. He says they’re not taking in as much revenue as what was projected.

He says the high taxes are hurting bringing everyone into the fold and he hopes legislation like AB286 can make a difference.

While regulation continues to face challenges, so do other aspects of Proposition 64, such as the impact on California roads.

The latest numbers from the California Highway Patrol show a dramatic increase in the number of arrests and crashes of those driving under the influence of marijuana and the cost to society for that is unknown.

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