An effort to jumpstart California’s licensed marijuana retailers failed to clear a key legislative committee on Thursday, likely dooming its prospects for the year as the country’s largest legal cannabis industry continues to flounder in the shadow of the illegal and tax free black market.
Recreational marijuana has been legal in California since Jan. 1, 2018, and consumers must pay a tax of 15% on pot purchased from licensed retailers. A group of state lawmakers, led by Democrat Assemblyman Rob Bonta, had hoped to temporarily lower that tax to 11% to help retailers compete with prices on the black market.
The bill failed to pass the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday, meaning it won’t advance to the Assembly floor and is likely dead for the year.
It’s possible lawmakers could revive it using legislative maneuvers later this year, but it’s unclear if they want to do that. California’s marijuana tax collections are not at all what lawmakers had expected after voters agreed to legalize the drug in a state with nearly 40 million people.
State officials estimate if marijuana tax collections continue on their current pace — which is hard to predict because the industry is so new — the state will collect $270 million this year. That’s $85 million less than initial estimates.
Published: May 17, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News