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Will a Special Tax on Medical Marijuana Sales Get Your Vote?

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The L.A. City Council is considering putting a special tax on medical marijuana collectives, however the voters will have the final say. Today the Council is expected to be presented with the City Attorney's recently issued report on the tax measure, and they are being recommended to adopt the resolution and have the proposition put on the March 8th, 2011 ballot.The purpose of the special tax is to supplement funding for the general municipal services that these businesses may require, which, according to the language of the council documents, include but are not limited to "police protection and crime suppression services, fire prevention and suppression services, park and recreation facilities, and general improvements throughout the City." The proposed rate is $50 per $1,000 of gross receipts.

Complicating the matter, as City Attorney Carmen Trutanich notes in his report, is that the measure, if approved by voters, would be imposing a tax on sales that are not recognized by law:

California law and federal law both treat general exchanges of marijuana for currency as criminal acts. Accordingly, based on the illegality of the sale of marijuana and on the exemption from business taxes or fees for organizations that operate on a not for profit basis, the proposed measure would be of little or no effect.