Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Higher Prices, Higher Taxes, Lower Doses
The sudden pain in my lower back was excruciating, making it hard to walk or even sit, and impossible to hide from my friend, Yami Bolanos. She handed me a small packet of Berry Blasters containing ten 25mg “mega dose chocolate asteroids” by MOON, totaling a full 250mg of active THC. She carries Berry Blasters at her dispensary, PureLife Alternative Wellness Center, in Chatsworth, CA. I popped two in my mouth on the way to Federal Court in Pasadena to support a fellow dispensary owner still caught in the cross-hairs of America’s war on weed.
Before long, the pain was bearable. I kept reminding myself we were at the famous, and famously liberal, 9th Circuit Court of Appeal. This was Charlie Lynch’s last and best chance at freedom from persecution for doing the same thing so many Americans are now doing with impunity – operating a medical marijuana dispensary in compliance with state law.
A Simple Twist of Fate
We would not be discussing dosage today without people like Charlie Lynch and Yami Bolanos. They were among the first to risk everything to comply with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, AKA Prop 215, and open Medical Marijuana dispensaries. Charlie was one of the first unlucky ones to be raided, prosecuted and persecuted – from 2007 to this day -- for his commitment to his patients. His fate is now in the hands of the 9th Circuit, while Yami is adjusting to new state regulations brought about by Marijuana “legalization,” AKA the 2016 Adult Use of Marijuana Act, AKA the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, AKA Prop 64.
Today, the Cannabis industry is projected to generate billions of dollars, in spite of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ lust to destroy it along with people like Charlie and Yami. But how many new Cannabis entrepreneurs are even remotely aware that they are profiting off the backs of the early risk-takers – from growers to dispensary owners -- who put their necks on the chopping block to provide medical marijuana? Precious few. Otherwise the spiffy new regulations would not allow them to party on the backs of their patients.

“Taxation Without Representation is Poobah” ~ MAD Magazine

Back in the day, before “legalization,” my packet of ten Berry Blasters cost $12.00. Now that weed is legal, you can’t buy a package with 250mg of active THC. At all. You can only buy a package of 100mg.

You also can’t buy a package with individual doses of 25mg THC. They only come in 10mg doses, with a maximum of ten doses per package. A package of ten 10mg Berry Blasters now costs $20.00. That’s half the dosage for almost twice the price -- before taxes.
State, County, and Sales and Use taxes for Adult Use come to 34.5%.
For those rare patients with a County Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC,) the taxes come to 20%.
But for most patients, with only a doctor’s recommendation, taxes come to a whopping 29.5%. 
In the “real world,” medicine is not taxed. At all. That’s how it should be in the Medical Marijuana world. 
Instead, patients are helping carry recreational users. Patients who carry enough of a burden as it is. Often on fixed incomes. Patients for whom the Medical Marijuana laws were written in the first place, and whose activism paved the way for the new billion-dollar industry. 

Take my backache. Please!

Actually, that’s exactly what Yami did with her Berry Blasters. When we got back from court, the pain had broken through again. I took a nap and several  more chocolate covered berry balls. By bedtime, I had finished all ten. I slept well and woke up without pain. As I went about my day, which included a 100-mile drive home, my back was fine. It’s still fine, two days later. In the past, I would have needed a bottle of Vicodin and a week in bed to get over this kind of attack. Instead, it was healed within 24 hours by a mega dose of THC. 

Patients Forced Back to Black Market

But thanks to “regulation and taxation” I may never have that option again. As a senior citizen living on Social Security, dispensary prices are almost beyond reach already. A 29.5% tax puts them completely out of reach. Then there’s the matter of having to eat twice as much candy to get half as much medicine, which tears hell out of my plant-based diet. But that’s just me. Take a diabetic liver transplant and cancer survivor like Yami Bolanos, who needs a daily dose of 250-300mg just to feel well enough to function, f'rinstance. She would need to eat 30 pieces of candy a day. Not exactly what the doctor ordered. And not exactly affordable at around $60 a day. 

Yes. Taxes on Medical Marijuana total 29.5%. With taxes so high, “legalization” is doing exactly what prohibition did: force patients into the black market.

There’s Still Time to Fix This. Here’s What You Can Do:
Support Assembly Bill 3157.
AB 3157 would cut state taxes on marijuana from 15% to 11%.
AB 3157 is co-authored by five Assembly members: Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale; Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg; Rob Bonta, D-Alameda; Ken Cooley, D-Sacramento; and Reginald B. Jones-Sawyer, Sr., D-Los Angeles.
On your cellphone go to Open States www.OpenStates.org

Put in your address and click to find your two Assembly Representatives.
Click on each name for phone number.
Call your reps.
Keep your message short, polite and to the point.
Talking Points:

- Ask them to please either co-sponsor or vote for AB 3157.
- If one of your Reps is an author of the bill, please be sure to thank them!
- 15% State tax is too high. AB 3157 would reduce it to 11%. This is a good beginning.
- But medical marijuana should be taxed no higher than 5%, if at all. (AB 3157 does not address this.)
- AB 3157 would stop pushing patients into the black market.
- AB 3157 would reduce state tax on the growing and selling of cannabis for at least three years.
- AB 3157 would give our emerging industry a chance to succeed.
- AB 3157 would protect patients by making Medical Marijuana more affordable, as well as safe.
- Thank supporters for lowering tax on legal marijuana.
Click here to track Assembly Bill 3157
And Finally....
Make sure you’re registered to vote!
Do it now! Do it here. Do it to your friends and neighbors. https://registertovote.ca.gov/

Congratulations! You are now a GRASSROOTS lobbyist. Our numbers rival millions of corporate dollars. Feel the power! Maybe even call the bill's authors to thank them and ask how we can help pass the Assembly bill and get it through the State Senate to the Governor's Desk. Follow that bill 'til we get it passed.

Thanks for all you do, be well, and HAPPY 420!