San Francisco’s higher taxes on cannabis

Adult use of cannabis is legal in California because of Proposition 64, which means anyone over the age of 21 can now purchase marijuana for recreational use, at a cost. Several taxes, including the 15 percent state tax, which comes along with recreational marijuana, that pushes the price of cannabis sold at dispensaries higher than the street value.

High marijuana prices due to taxes affect students, people on a tight budget, distributors and dispensaries in different ways.

“It doesn’t affect me, I’m a commercial grower. The trend is to tax the s—t out of the regulated market. We pay all our taxes. We pay over $50,000 tax over our county agriculture. Weed is more valuable than grapes or corn,” said Kyle Kendall CEO and founder of Easy-Breezy Farming Co.

The tax increase hasn’t influenced Kendall’s business since he provides the crops to the dispensaries not selling directly to an individual. If he had to sell directly to a person, he would have to include the state tax.

The taxes add up when buying cannabis. The combined sales and state pot taxes add up to over 30  percent in tax revenue in San Francisco, which might be too expensive for people on a budget. At street value, it would be up to the seller to make the price point of whatever kind of cannabis is being sold.

The benefit from buying legal cannabis as opposed to buying it on the street is guaranteed security, delivery to some areas, accurate potency and a plethora of products available at dispensaries like The Apothecarium.  

“However, with the delays California has faced and still seems to face in regulating the industry, I challenge any notion that this legalization has made it more accessible to consumers or better in general for consumers,” said Andrew, a former liberal studies major at SF State, who preferred to only be identified by first name.

Andrew would rather go to the black market since there’s no extra city, state and sales tax involved and because “the price is not worth it.”

“Perhaps in the few years we will see less red tape and it I’ll become more readily accessible or easier for consumers to get. Again, not solving the price point issue but certainly in terms of availability and convenience as well as comprehensive ubiquity, the market should level out in a positive way,” said Andrew.

The issues Andrew brings up are all due to the high cost of recreational  cannabis. Since January, cannabis is now more available to the public, there’s still an issue when it comes to the price point. Before Proposition 64 passed, the only way to buy from a dispensary was with a medical marijuana card. “I have a medical card. I avoid the fee. For people who are purchasing recreationally I feel like it could benefit that person’s specific medical or recreational needs even with the tax,” said Bronteá a former product development major at the Academy of Art University, who preferred to be identified by first name.

At dispensaries customers with a medical marijuana card can avoid paying the 15 percent tax since it is a medical reason, like Bronteá does. Recreational cannabis is now more accessible but those who need it for health reasons don’t have to stress about the price increase.

Prices of marijuana have gone up, but for those who just want to enjoy a joint at the end of the day like a glass of a Fieldwork IPA after a long shift at work or studying for an exam, it is now legal for those who want to use it recreationally. For those who have a medical card,  however, this tax is not applicable.

“If I were looking for a better deal I would rather go to black market dealers, but the dispensary is always safe and easy,” said Bronteá.

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