A 25 percent excise tax on medical marijuana could potentially raise about $1.2 million dollars for the state, according to the Legislative Finance Committee’s fiscal impact report of Sen. John Sapien’s bill, SB 56. But in a response to that figure, the state’s Tax and Revenue Department says the tax could cause patients to turn to the black market.
The analysis estimated a typical patient spends $6,256 annually on medical marijuana, and would pay about $1,564 in excise tax per year.
There are 1,048 licensed patients, but 321 are licensed to grow their own medical marijuana at home.
While the tax is on the production rather than the purchase of medical marijuana, the Tax and Revenue department pointed out in the report that the analysis assumes patients won’t purchase alternatives to medical marijuana if the price is raised. If the tax is passed on to the consumer, it could instead push more patients to grow at home, or purchase from the black market:
… while there might not be a substitute for medical marijuana, there are substitute sources for medical marijuana where this new tax would not be applied. Most patients with the physical ability or resources available to grow their own medical marijuana may already do so; however, a price increase of 25 percent could push more of the non-growing patients to grow their own or to turn to the black market.
Sen. Sapien told The Independent last week that its not a given that non-profit producers would pass the excise tax on to consumers, but a patient advocate Paul Culkin assumed that it would be.
By Marjorie Childress
February 1, 2010
New Mexico Independent