How Marijuana Bills Could Shape California’s Legal Weed Industry

Excerpts from the Lost Coast Outpost by Ryan Burns

State lawmakers are scrambling to develop regulations for California’s legal weed industry before Jan. 1, 2018, when it finally becomes legal for adults to buy marijuana without the cover of a doctor’s recommendation. Regarding that mad scramble, our representative in the California Senate, Mike McGuire, offered an analogy: “We are building the plane while it’s being flown.”

The Legislature now has until Sept. 15 to pass bills in the current legislative session, and Gov. Jerry Brown has until Oct. 15 to sign them into law or veto them into oblivion.

“The new rules and regulations that will be required of cannabis businesses next year are going to be a big change for the industry,” Wood told the Outpost. “We are working to do everything we can to make this transition period as easy as possible.”

Here’s a look at how the current batch of bills from our local lawmakers may impact the industry.

With legitimacy comes taxation. (Or is it vice versa?) Starting Jan. 1, all licensed cultivators in California will have to pay the tax man for their harvested ganja. How much? Per voter-approved Proposition 64 (aka The Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or AUMA), the state will levy a tax of $9.25 per ounce of harvested buds bound for the commercial market The rate for leaves, meanwhile, will be $2.75 per ounce, and consumers will pay a 15 percent tax on retail purchases.

When Prop. 64 became law, many growers expressed concern about having to pay taxes at the time of harvest — before the product has been sold. To address these concerns, Wood introduced a bill, coauthored by McGuire, to allow growers to pay their taxes through a licensed distributor, meaning they won’t have to pay the tax man until after they’ve been paid for their product. (Technically, the distributor would pay the tax, just like retailers are responsible for paying the sales tax they collect.)

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