Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
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.