- Tax revenues collected by the state in the first quarter of FY 2018 are far below January estimates
- A bill to temporarily suspend the cannabis cultivation tax and reduce the excise tax passes its second legislative committee
- A New York based medical marijuana manufacturer expands its presence into California
- The Bureau of Cannabis Control Cannabis Advisory Committee holds its next meeting in Oakland
Cannabis Taxes Collected in Q1 of FY2018 Lower than Expected
On Tuesday, the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) released a cannabis tax updated that showed California collected $34 million in excise tax in the first quarter of 2018. The Governor’s January budget assumed that the state would collect about $175 million in the first two quarters of 2018, far more than what the state has seen so far. For some in the industry, the lower than expected tax revenues reflects the clumsy rollout of a statewide legal system. Primary among the concerns by many in the industry has been 1) the slow process from reviewing and approving licenses at the state level; 2) the high-cost of complying with state regulations; 3) the widespread prohibition of cannabis business activities in many of the state’s cities and counties and; 4) the high tax burden that incentivizes consumers to buy in the illicit market.
Later today, the Governor will release his May Revise with updated estimates and potential funding and policy changes that may directly impact the industry. I will provide a brief recap of the Governor’s May Revision this week.
Does a Temporary Tax Reduction Have Legs?
On Tuesday, the Assembly Business and Professions Committee voted unanimously to temporarily suspend the cannabis cultivation tax and reduce the excise tax for three years. Supporters of AB 3157 say that California’s high tax rate makes it almost impossible for legal operators to compete against illicit operations that do not pay licensing fees or state and local taxes. Opponents of the bill say that the temporary tax reduction is premature, and the real problem lies at the local level where more than half of the state’s local jurisdictions have refused to allow cannabis business activity. In addition, education and mental health groups believe that the tax reduction will reduce much need funding to support youth drug prevention and equity programs in communities that were impacted the most by the war on drugs.
The Committee did express concern over the state’s ability to repay the outstanding loan of $135 million that was provided to state agencies to fund enforcement and oversight. As written in Proposition 64, taxes collected must be first used to cover he administrative costs of state agencies to implement cannabis laws. The next stop for AB 3157 is the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Stay tuned.
New York is Coming to California
Earlier this week, Etain, a women-owned and managed New York based medical cannabis company announced that they have joined forces with delivery company West Sacramento Management and Daily Green to produce and deliver products beginning this month. As one of ten medical dispensaries in Manhattan, Etain’s expansion into the Golden State follows approval in their home state to offer a water-soluble marijuana powder to medical patients. Approval for the water-soluble solution comes after New York regulators search for ways to jumpstart the state’s medical marijuana program in which growth has stalled since its approval in early 2016. Etain’s move to California is another in a series of investments by non-California businesses and investors. Recently, CannaRoyalty, a Canadian-based cannabis company announced several acquisitions of distribution assets throughout Northern California. The recent moves by both of these companies could signal more to come.
The State’s Cannabis Control Advisory Committee Meets in Oakland
Next Thursday, May 17, the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s Advisory Committee meets in Oakland California to discuss possible action on recommendations to modify the state’s licensing application, manufacturing and microbusiness requirements. The discussion will also include potential pathways on how to proceed with approved recommendations that require statutory change. Click here to review the agenda.