Warning: New Taxes & DUI - Is MMJ the New Cash Cow?

the_scream.jpgMARIJUANA CONSUMERS
TAKE IT ON
THE CHIN AGAIN

Taxes, More Taxes
& More Damn Taxes

Making Us Into Criminals Again

 This is not good news as two bills taxing mmj and one imposing a DUI per se on drivers have successfully passed their first committee votes on their way to the Senate and Assembly floors.

 

cash_cow.jpgSenate Bill 987, the Marijuana Value Tax Act sponsored by Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), imposes a special 15 percent statewide tax on medical marijuana sales.

 

This tax would be in addition to any currently existing state and local sales taxes which, depending on the jurisdiction, are between 7.5 and 10%. Some cities and counties (and the number is growing) impose an additional local tax of up to 15% on medical cannabis. If this tax is passed mmj patients would be paying between an additional 25% to 35% in taxes on the purchase of marijuana at the retail level. Ouch!

 

AB 2243 by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) would impose a medical marijuana cultivation tax similar to the way alcohol is taxed, which depends on the potency of the product. The proposed tax would be $9.25 per ounce on medical marijuana flowers, $2.75 per ounce on leaves, and $1.25 on each immature plant sold to licensed distributors in the state. Double Ouch!

 

dale_testify.jpgDale Gieringer, Director of CaNORML, testified in opposition to both bills at legislative hearings stating "At this time when providers already face burdensome new costs under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), it is unwise and inappropriate to impose any new state tax on medical marijuana.”

 

McGuire's tax would be collected when sold to consumers, whereas Wood's proposed cultivation tax would be collected at the distributor level. In either case, the tax would be borne by the consumer. If both taxes go into effect, many medical marijuana patients will turn to the criminal market to obtain their marijuana where prices could be half what the retail market would be forced to charge.

 

The Medical Marijuana Regulatory and Safety Act (MMRSA) enacted by the legislature last year to regulate medical marijuana did not include additional taxation on retail sales or cultivation. With the additional fees and other requirements required by MMRSA there is no need or justification for the imposition of any additional taxes or fees on medical marijuana.

 

Since a 2/3 vote is required to approve any new tax, the enactment of these two tax measures is not a fait accompli especially considering that the Republican minority is supposedly opposed to any new taxes – whether that includes taxes on marijuana remains to be seen.

 

driving_car.jpgAdding insult to the injury of new taxes is AB 2740, a bill introduced by Assembly member Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) which would make it illegal for anybody with five ng/mL or more of THC in his or her blood to drive.

 

This an absurd threshold for impairment that has no basis in science. Unlike a litany of scientific studies that show a nexus between an alcohol blood concentration of .08% and impairment, there is not one scientific study that shows any correlation between blood concentrations of THC and impairment. This bill is being pushed by law enforcement as a means to unfairly target marijuana consumers and by anti-marijuana drug warriors as a way to frighten uninformed voters to vote against marijuana legalization.

 

Our roads must be kept safe, but such arbitrary limits are not the answer. It is the same old same old – just as marijuana prohibition laws create hundreds of thousands of criminals but do nothing to make our communities safer, per se marijuana impairment laws criminalize innocent citizens and do nothing to make our highways safer.

 

THC can remain in a person’s system for weeks after its effects have worn off. Regular medical marijuana consumers can have active levels far in excess of the limit established in this bill, without affecting their ability to drive safely and coherently.

 

driving-on-marijuana-stats.jpgStudies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have found there is no difference in the accident rate between drivers who use marijuana and drivers who don’t so there is no fire anywhere that needs to be put out. Our state legislators should cool their cop-inspired fever and wait for UC San Diego’s $1.8 million research project to try to find a more accurate way of determining impairment in drivers who have used marijuana.

 

Even though these bills have been vigorously opposed by Americans for Safe Access, CaNORML and a handful of other mmj advocates, every one of these bills have been passed by at least one legislative committee on their way to the floor for a vote. The fact that they have gotten as far as they have once again testifies to the impotence of mmj patients and providers to influence the decisions of our legislators.

ca_stte_capitol.jpgTime for Us to Go to Sacramento

Since mmj patients and providers are not providing any significant funds to ASA, CaNORML or other mmj organizations to effectively lobby our legislators, it is up to us to do the influencing. A most excellent and effective way is on the horizon and that is for you to take a couple days of your valuable time to participate in ASA’s Annual Citizen Lobby Day on Monday, May 23 in Sacramento.

 

Citizen_Lobby_Day_at_Capitol_2015.jpgEvery year hundreds of patients and providers descend on the state capitol during ASA’s Citizen Lobby Day to visit and lobby their elected state legislators to let them know directly that their constituents, the people who vote for them, expect them to protect their access to mmj even if that means defying the all-powerful cops and their puppets in the League of California Cities.

 

Other than throwing money at our elected officials for their re-election campaigns, the absolute most effective action an individual can undertake to convince state assembly members and senators of the merits or demerits of a bill is to visit/lobby them in their offices in Sacramento. They know you will be either voting for or against them and that as activist in your community you will be influencing the vote of many other people in his or her district. They are well aware of this and they do pay attention

 

IE_patients_at_capitol_(2).JPGThanks to Americans for Safe Access (ASA) the opportunity to do this in a united and effective action is made possible by their annual Citizen Lobby Day in Sacramento. Every year MAPP has brought 15 or more patients to participate in ASA’s Citizen Lobby Day.

 

This year the Citizen Lobby Day is on Monday, May 23 where you can join with ASA and more than 300 patients, advocates, providers, industry works, and other stakeholders in face-to-face talks with lawmakers and regulators about patients' rights, taxation, and commercial regulation. There will be a continental breakfast at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on L Street, right across the street from the State Capitol Building where you will be a part of a special legislative briefing and citizen lobbyist training.

 

Special guest speakers include:lori_ajaz.jpg

Lori Ajax, newly appointed Chief of the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation
An-Chi Tsou, Senior Policy Advisor at the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation
Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access
Don Duncan, California Director of Americans for Safe Access

After the legislative briefing and lobbying training you will receive lobby day materials for your visits to the offices of your state Senator and Assembly member that afternoon. ASA will do all the work to schedule an appointment for you to meet with your State Assembly member and Senator to talk about legislation that affects you, your family, friends and community. 

 

meetng_official.pngResearch shows that an in-person visit from a constituent like you is six times more likely to influence an undecided lawmaker than a visit from a paid lobbyist. That means you have a lot of power to shape the future of medical cannabis in California.

 

In addition to the bills mentioned above, there are over a dozen more medical cannabis bills pending in the State Legislature right now. If you do not talk to your representatives about these bills, they will only hear from medical cannabis opponents, law enforcement, and others who do not have your best interests in mind.

 

hyatt.jpgAfter the California Citizen Lobby Day is finished, participants will have a chance to mingle with lawmakers and each other at a special VIP Reception, while enjoying a panoramic view of the Capitol from the 15th floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The reception is always a highlight of the lobby day.

 

This year’s Citizen’s Lobby Day in Sacramento on Monday, May 23 is going to be an informative, eventful, effective and thoroughly enjoyable. As we have done over the past four years, we have rented a van that will hold up to 15 people for the trip to Sacramento.

 

If you would like to join us for the trip to Sacramento, we will be leaving from the THCF offices in Riverside on Sunday, May 22 at 9 a.m., arriving in Sacramento around 6 p.m. We have reserved rooms at a nearby motel. After checking in, we will go to dinner.

 

After dinner there is an optional Comedy Show at a nearby club that ASA will be participating in and for those who want to attend, we will get you there and back to the motel.

 

On Monday morning, we will go to the Hyatt Regency Hotel where the Legislative briefing is being held in the morning. From there you will go to the State Capitol where appointments will have been made for you to meet in the offices of your state assembly member and state senator.

 

After that we will attend the Closing Reception leaving Sacramento around 7 p.m. and returning to Riverside around 2 a.m. Tuesday, May 24.

 

The cost for the trip is $95 and includes transportation, one night’s lodging and all registration fees. The lodging is based on two people to a room. If you want to have your own room, that would be an additional $35. A continental breakfast is served Monday morning at the legislative briefing, but all other meals are on your own.

 

scholarship.jpgScholarships are available for low-income patients and advocates. These are limited and in order to provide as many scholarships as possible, if you can provide part of the costs, it will allow us to provide more scholarships.

 

If you wish to drive up on your own, but want to stay with us and have your registration paperwork filed and fees paid would be $65 per person based on two people to a room.

 

van_party.pngAsk anyone who has ever gone on this trip before – it is educational, empowering, enlightening and extraordinarily FUN. To reserve your seat in the van and a room or just a room if you are driving up on your own, send an email to lanny@marijuanenws.org and I will send you a reservation and, if requested, scholarship form to fill out and return. Don’t wait too long – only 15 can experience the Sacramento or Bust Party Van.

 

SACRAMENTO TO PHILADELPHIA

Philadelphia is on the other side of the U.S.A. from Sacramento but like Sacramento where decisions are made that affect the entire state of California, decisions made there at the Democratic National Convention July 25 – 28 will affect the entire country and the world.

 

dnc_convention2.jpgI would like to be one of the very very small cogs in that decision making process by being elected as a delegate to the National Convention and represent the interests and well-being of everyone in the 36th Congressional District with special emphasis on improving the health and well-being of the community through the re-introduction of cannabis.

 

And I need your help. Not asking for money – just a bit of your time on Sunday, May 1 for the Bernie Sanders Delegate Selection Caucus in Palm Springs.

 

bernie.jpgYes, I am running as a Bernie Sander Delegate and yes I recognize it isn’t likely that he will get the nomination, but although he may not win, his ideas and policies are certainly winning. Win or lose, he will win delegates at California’s June 7th primary and I would be so proud to be one of those delegates that goes to Philadelphia and votes for him and his ideas about not what will make America great again, but what will keep America great and make it greater.

 

The 36th Congressional District encompasses the area beginning in the west with Beaumont and extending down the entire Coachella Valley with the cities of Palm Springs, Palm Desert and Indio and ending on the eastern edge of Riverside County at the city of Blythe. If you live in the District I hope you might be able to take some time on Sunday, May 1 to come on down beginning at 2 p.m. to Canyon Estates Clubhouse, 2323 South Madrona Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264.

 

Yes you must be a registered Democrat in the 36th District to vote BUT you can register right there at the Caucus Selection if you are not registered to vote and if you are registered as Not Affiliated with Any Party, you can register to join the Democrat Party right there. You can also switch your Party affiliation if you have a mind to do so.

 

sign_waving.pngWhether you live in the 36th Congressional District or not, I can still use your help as I need sign holders and wavers encouraging people to vote for me. Many of the people coming to vote only have one candidate in mind but will be able to vote for more than one. A large showing of supporters for my candidacy promoting the issues of marijuana legalization and ending the War on Drugs will engender a significant number to vote for me as well.

 

For a flyer about my candidacy to email to your friends and print out and distribute, please CLICK HERE. Whether you live in the 36th District or not, I need your help. If you can come out to Palm Springs on Sunday, May 1 beginning at 1:30 p.m. please send me an email at lanny@marijuananews.org. Make my day and help me get to the city of Brotherly Love and the 2016 National Democratic Convention.

 

florida.jpgWHERE THE MAJORITY

DOESN’T RULE

MMJ in Florida on
Internet Radio Show

 

The just released podcast of Marijuana Compassion and Common Sense at www.blogtalkradio.com/marijuananews goes to Florida where it seems the majority doesn’t rule. In 2014 Florida had a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot. Even though it obtained 58% of the vote, Florida law requires an initiative to obtain a super-majority of 60% to become law and it remains medically illegal.

         

As recent polling shows that over 70% of Floridians now support the legalization of Medical Marijuana, the proponents are back at it again and they just might upend Florida politics as usual in the process.

 

The United for Care Campaign is run by People United for Medical Marijuana (PUFMM) – an organization formed by Kim Russell, whose grandmother – ill with glaucoma – would not break the law, despite the medical benefits that marijuana could offer her condition.

 

Kim is still very involved working alongside PUFMM Chairman John Morgan, one of the state’s most influential attorneys and activists for the rights of individuals.

 

ben_pollara.jpgThe show’s guest is Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, the organization working to approve medical marijuana in Florida. A veteran in Florida political affairs and advocacy, Ben has been involved in Democratic politics in Florida since 2002 and serves as a member of Hillary Clinton’s National Finance Committee. Ben is a partner at LSN Partners, a consulting firm in Miami, FL that provides advice and counsel in the areas of government affairs, government procurement, business development, and communications.

 

What happened in 2014 and what was learned to conduct a campaign in 2016 will be discussed. The likelihood of success and the role that a medical marijuana initiative will play in Florida’s Presidential campaign as well as other elective offices in the November election will be examined.

 

News and views rounds out the podcast, so to hear the show right now CLICK HERE or go to www.blogtalkradio.com/marijuananews any time, any day, any where.

MAY 2016 MAPP MEETINGS

Circle the date on your calendar of the meeting nearest you

Topics and items for discussion announced in next newsletter

Wednesday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. Riverside/Western IE MAPP meeting - THCF Patient Center, 647 Main St. Unit 4D, Riverside 92501. The Brownie Mary Democratic Club meeting takes place at 6 p.m. before the MAPP meeting. Everyone is invited to attend both meetings.

 

Saturday, May 7 at 12 noon – Palm Springs/Coachella Valley MAPP meeting - Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon, downtown Palm Springs 92262. The Brownie Mary Democratic Club meeting takes place at 11:30 a.m. before the MAPP meeting. Featured speaker is J.R. Roberts, newly elected Palm Springs City Councilman. Everyone is invited to attend both meetings.

 

Saturday, May 7 at 3 p.m. - Morongo Basin/Joshua Tree MAPP meeting at the Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252.

 

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