Bid to Lower Pot Taxes Shelved in Committee

A bipartisan effort to reduce the state’s excise tax on commercial marijuana has failed, leaving open the question of whether California’s beleaguered legal market will be able to compete indefinitely with illicit sales.

AB 3157 would have reduced the excise tax from 15% to 11% and suspended the state’s cultivation tax. It stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee Friday.

“Today was another big win for the black market,” said Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey, who co-authored the measure along with assemblymembers Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), Ken Cooley (D-Sacramento), Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), and Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg). “All we wanted to do is to level the playing field financially.” 

That playing field now remains about as level as sand dune, industry leaders worry. Some experts have predicted total collapse of the legal marijuana industry if something isn’t eventually done. According to Lackey, some lawmakers didn’t feel enough time had passed to make such a drastic decision.

Despite the state's reticence, local governments have already begun cutting taxes on marijuana to encourage the legal market. As we reported previously, Monterey County is among those slashing its cultivation tax and other fees. 



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