Voters OK marijuana tax

2009-07-22 21:16

Oakland - Voters in the California city of Oakland have resoundingly approved a tax on medical marijuana, the first such tax of its kind in the US.

The 1.8% levy will be imposed on all sales of medical marijuana at the city's licensed dispensaries, which sold about $20m worth of the substance last year. It was passed by 80% of voters in a mail-in ballot, election officials announced late on Tuesday.

The vote comes as the city and the state of California face a massive budget crisis and politicians increasingly see a marijuana tax a way to raise revenue.

"It was the perfect moment," said councillor Rebecca Kaplan, who proposed the measure. "We had a horrible budget crisis in the city and we were looking for revenue."

State tax authorities last week released an estimate that California could raise $1.4bn with a cannabis levy.

The Los Angeles City Council proposed a medical marijuana tax earlier this month, and the cities of Berkeley and San Francisco may consider similar legislation.