Senate OKs studying marijuana tax

California lawmakers will have to decide whether to license and tax marijuana even though the whole business is still illegal under federal law.

In the meantime, one committee Wednesday voted 5-2 to study that possibility in the form of proposed bill SB 626. Sen. Ron Calderon, a Democrat from outside Los Angeles in Montebello, authored the bill. He argued before the State Governance and Finance Committee that, in these budget-slashing times, it behooves the state to try to get a slice of the pie, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“There is a real revenue source here that we need to tap,” Calderon told the committee, noting that California voters approved a ballot measure in 1996 allowing medical marijuana sales.

Track the bill here.

Meanwhile, Oakland city officials halted their plans to OK industrial-style marijuana operations and reap the tax rewards after the Department of Justice sent an ominous letter:

“… we will enforce the (Controlled Substances Act) vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law.”

The federal-state marijuana conflict deepens.

  • SB 626 is a toned-down version of the initial draft, which would have implemented a tax stamp and tracking system similar to California’s existing laws for tobacco products. Under the amended bill, that approach and others will be considered by a task force comprising representatives of law enforcement organizations, Americans for Safe Access and the California Cannabis Association.