L.A. County Supervisors voted last month to place an additional tax on marijuana sales to raise money for the homeless only to scrap the tax this week. The county first tried other taxes but could not lobby enough support on a 'millionaires tax' or a quarter-cent tax and property tax as they would compete with other initiatives on this November's ballot. While some are still concerned about the homeless problem, others believe that the marijuana industry should not be paying for it. Too many taxes on marijuana sales can keep people hiding in the black market instead of becoming part of the legal market. Supervisor Kuehl, who proposed the marijuana tax, has shown further support for a quarter-cent tax which could bring in an estimated $355 million a year, while the marijuana tax would be limited to around $100 million in 2018, and only if the recreational law passes. The county will have another chance to tackled the homeless problem in March 2017.
Kuehl said there had been pushback from some homeless service and drug treatment providers who thought the county should not be seen as promoting marijuana legalization. Kuehl said she was worried that without their support, the measure would not get the two-thirds voter support needed to pass.
Tomer Grassiany, a medical marijuana business owner and member of the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force, said he wants to see the ban lifted and pointed out that if that occurred, the county would be able to share in taxes collected by the state. But he was skeptical of a special tax for homeless services.
“While I do think that homelessness is a big problem, I don’t necessarily agree that cannabis is the one that should be paying for it,” he said.
Others questioned whether placing too many taxes on marijuana would discourage black-market operations from crossing into the legal economy.