December 17, 2019 - In November 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized the nonmedical use of cannabis (typically called recreational or adult use) and created a structure for regulating and taxing it. In this report we provide (1) background information on cannabis and its legalization in California, (2) a discussion of the effects of adjusting the tax rate, (3) an assessment of other potential changes to California’s cannabis tax structure, and (4) recommendations for the Legislature.
February 25, 2020 - Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration Assembly Business and Professions Committee
December 17, 2019 - In this post, we describe some of the similarities and differences between taxes on cannabis and taxes on other products in California. Our estimates suggest that taxes on certain cannabis products are roughly comparable to taxes on distilled spirits but much higher than taxes on beer and wine. California’s state and local governments generally tax cannabis—including medical cannabis—more heavily than other medicines. In some instances, however, exemptions can make tax rates on medical cannabis comparable to tax rates on other medicines.
February 14, 2017 - Voters legalized the use of medical cannabis in California in 1996, and the Legislature approved the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) in 2015. In November of 2016, voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized and created a regulatory framework for the nonmedical use of cannabis. In the coming year, the Legislature will face key choices about whether it wants to make statutory changes to bring the regulatory frameworks of MCRSA and Proposition 64 into greater alignment. Additionally, the Legislature will need to determine the staff and other resources to provide to the various agencies charged with regulating and taxing the cannabis industry. We recommend the Legislature (1) work with the administration to enact legislation to align the regulation of medical and nonmedical cannabis to the maximum extent possible, (2) make its decisions on the extent to which it wants to align the regulatory structures for medical and nonmedical cannabis before making its decisions on the Governor’s requested funding and related positions, and (3) take a more incremental approach to budgeting for departments that are requesting resources in 2017-18.
December 17, 2019 - In this post, we discuss a key interaction between sales taxes and other taxes on cannabis retailers—in particular, local business taxes. Due to this opaque, counterintuitive interaction, the overall tax rate on cannabis is slightly higher than it appears to be. We recommend that the Legislature make statutory changes to address this issue.
May 23, 2017 - Presented to: Assembly Committee on Business and Professions
February 24, 2020 - In this report, we discuss issues for the Legislature to consider as it decides whether to change the state’s approach to taxing e‑cigarettes. We find that a tax based on nicotine content has some advantages. We also suggest that the Legislature consider a wide range of possible tax rates. Once the Legislature has chosen a rate, we recommend indexing the rate to inflation and revisiting it frequently to assess whether further adjustments are warranted. If the Legislature chooses to enact a new tax on e‑cigarettes, we recommend that it take an approach to revenue allocation that prioritizes flexibility.