Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona

Drug Cartel Empowerment Act: Arizona Legislature proposes 300% sales tax on medical marijuana

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced today on the John C. Scott Show that it would be legal in Arizona to impose sales tax on medical marijuana. Although drug prescriptions are not subject to sales tax in Arizona, Horne said the medical marijuana law does not label the medical marijuana prescriptions specifically as a “prescription.”

At first I was annoyed but not surprised by this political maneuver from Horne. In my opinion, if medical marijuana is provided to a patient to alleviate symptoms of disease or symptoms of treatment– which is how the law is written– then it should be considered a drug and, therefore, not taxable. If marijuana were legalized and considered a recreational drug like alcohol or tobacco, it should be taxed at the same rate as other consumer goods (6.6%), which is the tax rate that I thought Horne was suggesting.

But no, that is not the case. In the Arizona Legislature today, several representatives– including southern Arizona Democrats Steve Farley, Bruce Wheeler, Olivia Cajero-Bedford, and Paula Aboud and others– sponsored a bill to charge 300% sales tax on medical marijuana— not the normal 6.6% base state sales tax. (How can this be legal?)

All I can say is WTF are you thinking? Do you have any idea how expensive cancer treatment is? Why would you think it appropriate to add 300% sales tax on one of the few (hopefully) affordable drugs available to these poor people? This is unconscionable.

Loyal readers, it’s time to contact the Arizona Legislature. Here is contact information for the Arizona House of Representatives (where Farley and Wheeler are) and the state Senate (where Aboud, Cajero-Bedford and Kyrsten Sinema [from Phoenix] are). For a full list of sponsors, check out the bill here.

I agree with the Phoenix Chapter of NORML, HB2557 should be called the Drug Cartel Empowerment Act because all it will do is promote the marijuana black market, supplied by violent cartels.

UPDATE: Since this article was published, both Wheeler and Sinema have told me they no longer support HB2557. For further details, check out this follow-up story.

43 comments on “Drug Cartel Empowerment Act: Arizona Legislature proposes 300% sales tax on medical marijuana

  1. tiponeill
    January 26, 2011

    OMG something has to be wrong here – I’m calling Aboud tomorrow.

    • tiponeill
      January 26, 2011

      Another section of the bill says it isn’t taxable at all ?

      42-5061.  Retail classification; definitions
      36  A.  The retail classification is comprised of the business of selling
      37  tangible personal property at retail.  The tax base for the retail
      38  classification is the gross proceeds of sales or gross income derived from
      39  the business.  The tax imposed on the retail classification does not apply to
      40  the gross proceeds of sales or gross income from:
      41  1.  Professional or personal service occupations or businesses which
      42  involve sales or transfers of tangible personal property only as
      43  inconsequential elements.
      44  2.  Services rendered in addition to selling tangible personal property
      45  at retail. HB 2557
      – 9 –
      1  3.  Sales of warranty or service contracts.  The storage, use or
      2  consumption of tangible personal property provided under the conditions of
      3  such contracts is subject to tax under section 42-5156.
      15  regulator and tank, on the prescription of a member of the medical, dental or
      16  veterinarian profession who is licensed by law to administer such substances
      20  9.  Prosthetic appliances as defined in section 23-501 prescribed or
      21  recommended by a health professional who is licensed pursuant to title 32,
      22  chapter 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 or 29.
      23  10.  Insulin, insulin syringes and glucose test strips.
      24  11.  Prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses.
      25  12.  Hearing aids as defined in section 36-1901.

      • JoeS
        January 26, 2011

        Are Az dispensaries mandated to be non profit?

      • tiponeill
        January 26, 2011


    • pamela
      January 26, 2011

      Call her. Farley told my on facebook that 300% is the same tax on cigarettes, and that their idea is to use the money to fund AHCCCS. The disconnect is that tobacco kills more people worldwide than anything else… period. Cigarette taxes are high so people will think about quitting; also, originally, cigarette taxes in Arizona paid for quit-smoking services, but the legislature has pretty much screwed that up. Also, I didn’t see anything in the bill that designated the funding to AHCCCS. I think this is ill-conceived.

      • JoeS
        January 26, 2011

        Personally I don’t care what you want to smoke,  but I don’t think that the American Lung Association is going to approve of smoking marijuana instead of tobacco.  They have said it is at least as harmful to the lungs if not more.

        And unless the law says they cannot,  .gov is going to tax it,  they tax everything…thats what they do.

      • tiponeill
        January 26, 2011

        > Farley told my on facebook that 300% is the same tax on cigarettes, and that their idea is to use the money to fund AHCCCS.
        That would make since if we had marijuana legalization. This is not, and is only avalable to ill people as medication.
        It is crap, and I’m willing to primary these Dems if true – esp Aboud and Sinema

  2. JoeS
    January 26, 2011

    Back in November City Atty Mike Rankin said taxing medical marijuana would be legal,   he made that announcement because democrat city council member Shirley Scott said she wanted to tax it….

    Horne’s job,  like Rankin’s,  is to make an initial determination on the legality of a proposed government action.  It is the lawmakers that pass the laws to tax something…. 

    • bong_jamesbong2001
      January 27, 2011

      New word for the day: “confiscatory tax”.  This tax is promotes sickness, and is promoted by SICK (in the head) people.

  3. Michelle
    January 26, 2011

    So medical marijuana is caught in a Catch 22 situation.  You can tax it because the doctor’s will be recommending not precribing it and doctors can’t prescribe marijuana because it’s a Schedule I drug.  What a whacked out thinking and then on top of this the state universities won’t allow students to be medical marijuana users on their campus.  Oxycontin is fine (again back to the prescription thing) because a doctor has written you a prescription.  This nonsense just has to stop and time for a serious discussion on full on legalization of marijuana which will only happen when we end Prohibition.  Everyone has admitted the war on drugs is a failure but no one will move to do anything about this except the symbolic bills sitting DOA in Congress that always just sit there.  Obama with one stroke of his pen (it’s called a Presidential Directive) could remove marijuana from the drug schedule and what would be the worst thing that would happen?  Really think about it what would be the worst consequence if Obama removed marijuana from the drug schedule?  All I can think of is some granny out there will score some weed to see what all the fuss is about and Oprah would have a coming out party on her show for all the secret stoner celebs… that’s it, not a whimper, not a bang, not a big deal.  But of course the sheeple that inhabit the country would start bleating that the sky is falling and we can’t handle it.  Somewhere out there in the great Akashi, Thomas Jefferson and the rest of our hempster founding fathers are horrified at what our nation has become and they want their constitution back.  After all the damn thing was written on hemp that they grew and smoked and enjoyed.

    • Pamela Powers
      January 27, 2011

      Very good analysis! You’re right all the way around.

  4. leftfield
    January 26, 2011

    As crazy as this seems right now, I’ll bet this is gonna seem downright reasonable by comparison before this administration has finished with us.

    • JoeS
      January 26, 2011

      ” I’ll bet this is gonna seem downright reasonable by comparison before this administration has finished with us.”

      At least we agree that the Obama administration is worrisome,  I knew you would see reason before too long.

      • Fixitt
        January 27, 2011

        I think he was referring to the STATE administration, not Federal.  Had to work in some Obummer bashing, didn’t you?  Yes, the feds also need to be shown that their so-called war on drugs is stupid and pointless, but the state is now going to play keep-away with our voter’s initiative.  With all the fees, tariffs, insane requirements, and now exorbitant taxes associated with this new law, no one will be able to afford it.  Was this their plan to begin with?  This is taxation without representation, actually scapegoating those who are the least able to fight back.
        Lets hope the stink from this will stay on them and they never get re-elected again.
        This is a cruel action against the sick and poor.  I have crushed nerve roots in my back from an industrial accident.  Marijuana is the only thing that moderates that pain without making me sick.  Between the health department overcharging for anything connected with pot, and now the state wants to jack that up to insane levels of taxation, I definitely qualify, but I wouldn’t be able to obtain any.  This is just a cruel joke made even worse by unthinking, greedy bureaucrats.
        Please, people — fight this.

      • leftfield
        January 27, 2011

        This is a cruel action against the sick and poor

        Yes, it is.  In fact, it is yet another cruel action in a long history of cruel actions.  If all along you have believed in the popularly held myth that your system of government is there to serve “the people’s interest”, I hope finally you are disabused of this notion.  If so, it’s time to ask yourself who the system actually serves? 

      • JoeS
        January 27, 2011

        So what State AND city legislators are at the forefront at proposing a tax.

        And don’t blame Tom Horne for making a legal determination that mirrors the one city atty Mike Rankin came up with.

        NEITHER of those men can levy taxes

        So what tax happy legislators are we going to band together to get rid of? 

      • leftfield
        January 27, 2011

        At least we agree that the Obama administration is worrisome…

        Actually, I believe we do agree on this, although likely for different reasons.  For me, it represents the lesser of two great evils. 

  5. Pingback: Drug Cartel Empowerment Act: Arizona Legislature proposes 300% sales tax on … – Tucson Citizen » AZ Green Medication

  6. Pingback: Drug Cartel Empowerment Act: Arizona Legislature proposes 300% sales tax on … » Mary Jane's List

  7. tiponeill
    January 26, 2011

    Perhaps they could name it the “Tax the Sick” Bill.
    I thought AZ Repubs were bad – what a way to disgrace Dems.

    • JoeS
      January 27, 2011

      Dems….they will tax you to death……no, really.

  8. Pingback: Drug Cartel Empowerment Act: Arizona Legislature proposes 300% sales tax on … – Tucson Citizen » AZ Green Medication

  9. Fixitt
    January 27, 2011

    So, $400 an ounce, that means it would cost me a cool grand to get a month’s worth of medicine, and I would have to pay an additional $1200 an ounce for taxes?  I don’t even get $1000 on my SS disability… WTF????  This is a war on not only the sick, but the poor as well, Shame on you, state congress!

    • Fixitt
      January 27, 2011

      Maybe we need a recall election….  What BS…

    • Pamela Powers
      January 27, 2011

      I asked a friend of my with a California card what the average price per ounce is. I estimated that with a 300% tax this could be $800-1000 per month if you bought the maximum (2.5 oz every 2 weeks x 300%).
      They should tax it the same as other herbal treatments– 6.6% (state base + city tax.

  10. bong_jamesbong2001
    January 27, 2011

    This proposed tax gives REAL meaning to the phrase “taxed to DEATH.”

  11. Pingback: Medical marijuana sales taxable, Horne says – Arizona Daily Star | Marijuana Movies

  12. Brandon
    January 27, 2011

    i would never do it but i see now why people go crazy and kill there senators and congress people.

  13. Pingback: Update on proposed 300% medical marijuana tax - Tucson Progressive

  14. Emp
    January 27, 2011

    How about we add a 300% tax to the paychecks of these idiots in power!

  15. leftfield
    January 27, 2011

    Legalize it!  Don’t criticize it! 

    Peter Tosh.

  16. madmary
    January 27, 2011

    Joe S. Please check out Dr Tashkin’s 30 year study of Cannabis and Nicotine users.  Heavy users.  Guess what he found and he did not like it either.  Cannabis smokers did not get cancer of the throat,  larynx or lungs like the nicotine smokers did.  There are compounds in Cannabis that work to prevent cancer.  However, you were right on with your comment about Obama. Has anyone counted the numbers of cannabis arrests under this DEMOCRAT?  

    • JoeS
      January 27, 2011


      I am not stating one is worse then the other,  I’m just saying that you will have a hard time convincing groups like the American Lung Association that smoking marijuana does not do damage to the users body.

      You might as well try to convice them that filtered ciggarettes are good for you and unfiltered are bad…..it’s not gonna happen.

      And for the record,  personally I could not care less about what you want to smoke.  I’m no fan of Statists on the left OR the right trying to micromanage everyones life. 

  17. Dug
    January 28, 2011

    If they tax dispensaries out of business then instead of 124 grows in the state, they will have thousands of “patient grows” in the state. Maybe a blessing in disguise?

  18. Dr. Diane Katz
    January 28, 2011

    Why don’t we tax lawmakers’ salaries at 300%?

  19. CJ
    January 29, 2011

    Dug has it right: if they tax the heck out of it, then it’ll just make it easier for individual growers, and for caregivers.
    The way it stands now, if a dispensary is within 25 miles, you MUST buy from the dispensary. There’s no way to tell if the stuff you’re buying is the correct grex (sativas for increasing appetite for cancer patients, indicas for relaxation and migraines), and no way to know for certain what pesticides might have been used on it.
    The system was rigged by the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project to be stilted so strongly in favor of the dispensaries that the individual growers would be pushed out. As if people with cancer, MS, and Crohn’s disease could afford weed at $350+ an ounce. Insane!
    Pass the tax, and either grow it yourself, or have a caregiver grow it for you. Little note: the law, as proposed, doesn’t allow caregivers to charge anything for labor, just expenses. Compare with dispensaries, which can charge as much as the market will bear.

  20. dead horse
    January 29, 2011

    The hell with all these legislators.  The hell with over priced dispensaries as well.
    Anyone that has ever grown a Marijuana plant knows its not rocket science.  After the set up cost for a small closet which can be as little as 300 dollars for lights. The cost of actually buying great seeds equates to just s few dollars an ounce at harvest time.
    I DONT want dispensaries near me at all. I feel if I jump though all the dam hoops and prove my 20 year medical history for my spinal cord injury. Then I have earned the right to grow in my closet.  After all I would have followed all the dam regulations to get the card. Its nobodies dam business where I get Marijuana and how much I pay for it or to grow it.   Growing at home is the only way MOST of the people I know including myself will ever be able to afford to benefit from this law.
    Screw that 25 mile crap to. Its very discriminatory. Why should I be forced to buy from a dispensary If I live 24 1/2 miles from one and my friend a half mile down the road can grow 12 plants in his closet for next to nothing….Complete Horseshit.
    Let them come arrest me for legally having a card and growing in my closet 24 miles from a dispensary.  Ill get my Nephews High powered Vegas Lawyer and Sue the living shit out of Arizona.  Ive already talked with legal folks and have been told, if challenged the state would LOSE.   Screw these overpaid A holes that think they can run your personal Medical Business.  The whole point here is to use Marijuana Legally.  Not how you HAVE to obtain it.

  21. Pingback: Arizona Main Stream Media Silent on HB 2557 & the Proposed 300% Tax on Medical Marijuana | Arizona Medical Marijuana Law

  22. Pingback: Arizona Main Stream Media Silent on HB 2557 & the Proposed 300% Tax on Medical Marijuana | Arizona Patient Alliance | Compassionate Care Collective for those that suffer from severe pain and chronic illness.

  23. Gary
    January 30, 2011

    Naturally, those with “medical use” should be funded by Medi-Care!
    Do we really want ANY sick person to choose between “medicine and food”?

  24. Leonard Krivitsky, MD
    February 12, 2011

    Only the people who have something seriously wrong with them mentally would even proposed a 300% tax on a medicine. The US Government should overcome its own “denial” with respect to Medicinal Cannabis, which can serve as a safe alternativ­e to many pharmaceut­ical chemicals on the market. I believe it is very positive that the President acknowledg­­es the “validity” of this debate. Whenever the validity of the debate is recognized­­, such a “recogniti­­on” invariably implies that our side has a “valid argument”; this being so, it follows that our side (in favor of Cannabis/M­edicinal Cannabis Legalizati­on) has a very real possibilit­­y of winning this “perfectly legitimate debate”, for otherwise it would not be a “debate”. For example, to even suggest that Cannabis Plant has no medicinal properties is not even a “rational” thing to do; as a “recreatio­­nal” substance, Cannabis is incomparab­­ly safer than alcohol! Few people even know that one out of five people in Britain are expected to live to 100 years old, while Cannabis consumption in Britain is the highest in Europe. Look at Canada where the Cannabis “laws” are much more “liberal” than in the United States, yet the criminality, and especially violent crime, are much lower than in this country. And if all this were not enough, it is scientific­­ally proven that Cannabis use (as opposed to alcohol use) suppresses violent urges and behaviors. All this is true even if the President is “personall­­y opposed” to legalizati­­on (at least for now). But we cannot sit on our butts and passively expect positive developmen­­ts to occur. We must participat­­e actively, write comments at the news articles, write to politician­­s, sign petitions, register to vote, etc. Let’s ask our politicians why, in this time of rising deficits, they would rather talk about taxing mother’s milk than about slashing the so-called “marijuana enforcement” budget! I specifical­­ly urge all the young people to talk to their parents and grandparen­­ts and educate them about Cannabis vs. alcohol and hard drugs. As the logical evidence in our favor inexorably accumulate­­s, the “qualitati­­ve shift” will occur in our common consciousn­­ess, and we will win this “perfectly legitimate­­” debate!

  25. Leonard Krivitsky, MD
    February 14, 2011

    Many people don’t realize that Cannabis prohibitio­n is completely counter-pr­oductive as it encourages people to indulge in alcohol and/or hard drugs, which are much more dangerous than Cannabis can ever be. It is proven that Cannabis use suppresses violent urges and behaviors, and “only the unsophisti­cated” think otherwise, according to the prestigiou­s “Substance Abuse: A Comprehens­ive Textbook” 4-th Edition. Marijuana Legalizati­on was advocated by Shafer Commission in 1972, something that Pres. Nixon chose to ignore, and the Administra­tive Law Judge Francis Young said in 1988 that “marijuana is one of the safest therapeuti­cally active substances known to man”. The so-called “gateway drug” theory is completely bogus, and Cannabis itself is not physically addictive as it lacks the physical “withdrawa­l syndrome” associated with its use. Drug Marinol, much touted by the DEA, is NOT “Medical Marijuana”­, as the whole plant has over 70 active compounds, interactin­g with one another and constituti­ng the “whole” that is not at all the same as any of its “parts”, as it is the “whole” that makes “parts” to be what they are. To say that marijuana does not have medicinal properties is simply the same thing as to say that the earth is flat! This is just not a “rational” statement to make altogether. And why is it that our so-called “representatives” in Congress will talk endlessly about massive cuts in social programs, but no one dares suggest that the huge DEA “marijuana enforcement” budget should be cut, and this is what most people would support, by the way! In the end, to be sure, science and reason will prevail, while ignorance and fear will lose!

  26. earth
    August 27, 2011

    If anyone such a interested in buy a marijuana,cannabis drugs and party pills;so! this suggestion give you a interesting information to buy a dagga,weed,seed and other marijuana drugs you can visit the great site that the link here and visit of that; also,you can give suggestion about it

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This entry was posted on January 26, 2011 by in Arizona, Arizona Legislature, medical marijuana, taxes, Tom Horne and tagged , , .

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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals--not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election. My platform focuses on economic reforms to grow Arizona's economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, growlocal small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs. I also stand for equal rights, choice, and paycheck fairness for women. I am running as a progressive and running clean.

My day job is managing editor for the American Journal of Medicine, an academic medicine journal with a worldwide circulation. In addition, my husband and I co-direct Arizonans for a New Economy, Arizona's public banking initiative. I am a member of the national board of the Public Banking Institute, and I am co-chair of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I am a published author, photographer, videographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, but I have lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1981. I am a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and the Public Relations Society of America.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post.

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