Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Oakland California taxes weed to escape deficit

Against the backdrop of budget deficits across the Golden State, the Californian city of Oakland votes yes to a proposal to tax the sale of medical marijuana.

Nearly 80 percent of Oakland voters endorsed the idea to make the city the first in the United States to impose taxes on medical marijuana proceeds.

To celebrate the approval, supporters hand-rolled marijuana cigarettes at Oaksterdam University where some students train to work in the marijuana industry.

Cannabis is California's biggest cash crop. It is valued at $14 billion annually.

"It is important because the city of Oakland is facing a massive deficit like many jurisdictions in California," CNN quoted Steve DeAngelo, a leader of one of the city's cannabis clubs, as saying. "And we decided to step up to the plate and make a contribution to the city in a time of need."

Some anti-drug fighters say the tax measure sends the wrong message. The City Council in Oakland, however, has a different opinion.

"Given that the medical cannabis dispensaries are something that was legalized in California, why not have revenue from it?" said councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan.

The new measure places a 1.8 percent gross receipts tax on the four licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in Oakland.

The endorsement comes after Democrat Tom Ammiano earlier this year introduced a bill that if approved, would allow the recreational use of marijuana in the state of California.

Under the bill, people of over 21 years of age would be able to grow, buy, sell and possess cannabis

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