Waiting to inhale - Page 2

Bay Area cities envision a post-Prop. 19 world of tax revenue and hash bars, but San Francisco opts to wait and see

It's an open question how recreational smokers will get their weed if Prop. 19 passes

Berkeley City Council Member Kriss Worthington said planning for the post-Prop. 19 world is smart to "synchronize a forward movement on the state and local level" and to "hit the ground running," a sentiment that Kaplan also voiced for Oakland and one shared by other cities.

Stockton's Measure I would tax rec-use cannabis businesses at a higher rate than med-use businesses. Sacramento's Measure C is similar, containing a provision for a rec-use tax range if Prop. 19 passes. Richmond's Measure V would tax 5 percent of gross sales of cannabis, and could apply to rec-use businesses too. Oakland's Measure V would add a 5 percent tax to other taxes already on med-use cannabis, and put a 10 percent sales tax on rec-use cannabis. Measure H, on Rancho Cordova's ballot, would tax personal cultivation at a higher tax on any square footage beyond the 25 square feet that Prop 19 specifies. Long Beach's Measure B would establish a business license tax on the city's potential recreational cannabis businesses. Even Albany, which has no dispensaries, would tax for-profit and nonprofit dispensaries differently through its Measure Q.

But Mirkarimi said he would like to tax marijuana cultivation, and has even voiced support for med-use cannabis dispensaries working directly with SF General Hospital to provide to patients, "thereby segregating a special use" and keeping cannabis prices low or nonexistent based on patient needs.

So if Prop. 19 passes, where will San Franciscans be able to purchase rec-use cannabis? Current med-use dispensaries may be a logical choice. "We already have the infrastructure," said SF dispensary Medithrive co-owner Daniel Bornstein.

Whereas alcohol purveyors are accustomed to providing one barrier to purchase (when they card the buyer), dispensaries such as Medithrive offer many. "We already card and only accept patronage from those with a valid doctor recommendation. We also require he/she become a member of the dispensary and limit to one visit per day."

When he contemplates whether Medithrive might provide rec-use cannabis in the future, Bornstein says "If [the city adopts] a responsible statute that's fair, we would welcome the opportunity to offer a broadened service to more people."

That avenue troubles Mirkarimi. "I don't know how that works," he said. Rec-use cannabis purchase would require no doctor's notes and could occur within a for-profit business model. How would dispensaries legally reconcile making money under their nonprofit status? "I don't want to put that burden on them," Mirkarimi said.

Prop. 19 offers other potential implementation conundrums. For example, the measure will only give local governments the option to legalize the limited cultivation/sale of cannabis. Legalization won't be compulsory. Therefore, it is likely that a post-Prop. 19-approved California will become a patchwork of alternating "dry" and "wet" municipalities.

So let's say you're on a road trip and you pass through many cities that all treat cannabis differently. Bornstein and his Medithrive partner Misha Breyburg worry about such a "patchwork of legal complexity." But Prop. 19 provides for the legal transport of cannabis through cities that prohibit its sale, and California Assemblymember Tom Ammiano has already proposed legislation to smooth out the rough spots in Prop. 19 and answer open questions.

So for now, everyone is just waiting to see what state voters do.