Members of the Holistic Pain Management Institute in San Jose are celebrating; they have been pushing for a tax on medical marijuana for a while now, and Monday they got their wish. The San Jose City Council voted to place a 7 percent tax on medical marijuana.
"It will make us more legit, it will make us a little bit more regulated, we will be able to stand firm, our foundation is being built right now," Holistic Pain Management spokesperson Reyna Burns said.
The tax vote comes one month after San Jose voters overwhelmingly approved Measure U, which allows the city to impose a business tax on medical marijuana up to 10 percent.
Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio came up with the 7 percent figure, which he says will help bring San Jose much needed cash.
"Medical cannabis sales are a billion dollars in the state of California, we know there's some number of that in San Jose so at 7 percent it should be revenue to pay for city services," Oliverio said.
Not everyone though is happy about the tax. Other medical marijuana advocates wanted the council to come up with specific regulatory guidelines, from a permitting process to operating requirements. None of that was voted on Monday.
"A tax, while the dispensaries are not legally recognized, really is taxation without representation and it strikes really the core of our American values and do we really want to levy a tax on people who are sick and suffering," Americans for Safe Access spokesperson Lauren Vasquez said.
Taxing before addressing key issues is exactly why Rose Herrera did not go along with the majority of her fellow council members. She hopes they will eventually address the growing number of marijuana dispensaries, which has shot up exponentially in recent months.
"We have to balance the needs of everyone, the medical marijuana patients that would like to get that, also the rest of our city and the rest of our community, including the people who live near schools and businesses and other members of the community," Herrera said.
One thing the entire council did manage to agree on is a ban on new dispensaries. So for now, the number of pot clubs in San Jose will remain at 98.