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A Catch-22 for Collective and Patients – Unaffordable is the Same as Unsafe

Daily Dose 2011-04-18 0 comments

Within the birth of a new industry, ‘No Taxation without Representation’ is a message that must reach our elected officials now that states and local governments are taxing medical marijuana patients and providers.  At the cost of defunding the drug war, how much will the Feds give up without looking like they are giving in?

By Sam Sabzehzar

Congressional candidate Marcy Winograd (left), Congress speaks about ending the war on patients to an audience in Los Angeles. State Assemblymember Jim Beall (center) also spoke on the Public Perspectives panel, alongside Ret. Judge Jim Gray (far right). All want to see patients and providers better protecting, including financially through patient and employment protection rights, like SB129 would do.

With so many local and state governments wanting to tax every part of the medical marijuana industry, it’s only appropriate, and probably only legal, if they also allow for some of the expenses that patients and patient providers spend (some of them on government-sactioned regulations) to be tax deductible.

In California, for example, the state requires that the medical marijuana program be not-for-profit, which doesn’t require a profit and loss statement to prove they lost money, but yet tax the medicine, the business, the patients, the physicians, and take a cut of every single type of medical marijuana operation, ancillary or otherwise.

Los Angeles recently passed Measure M, which added an additional 5% tax to a tax rate that is already at almost 10%, making the grand total a patient pays 15% higher in the city of Los Angeles because poorly allocated funds from a poorly drafted budget showed signs of weakness that amounted to the idea that taxes the sick and dying would be the city’s solution.  And they aren’t the only ones.

Many cities in California face mounting opposition to the state’s compassionate use program.  This doesn’t make them non-compassionate, just merely misinformed, misguided, or someone with an agenda.

The California State Board of Equalization requires taxes paid on medical cannabis, and facilities that provide medical marijuana options for patients sometime pay more than their fair share.

When taxes were file this year many people made last minute contributions, donations, and investments to minimize the amount of monies owed (or maximize that amount that is due to be returned).

Because the cannabis plant, better known in America as marijuana for the last sixty plus years, is still under scrutiny and most business that revolve around the medicinal use of cannabis as it relates to providing the medicine to their patients, tend to write off many of the expenses, like any business, including not-for-profits would do.

The rub is in the scheduling of the cannabis plant by Congress.  It is a Schedule I drug, supposedly because it has no medicinal value.   The longer the government makes that claim, the more inept they look.  They know that only rescheduling it will regain the respect by the people that have stopped questioning their support and have dropped out all together. Doing so, however, will open up what they see as pandora’s box because to change the schedule is to change perception our federal government spent years (and trillions of dollars) defending.

To dry up the funds allocated to fight the war on drugs is a sobering though, pun intended

All that goes into the plant’s growth, and all the goes into obtaining one’s medicinal needs, be it cannabis, acupuncture, or oxycontin, tend to write off the medical expenses that accrued during the last year for tax purposes.

Because of the discrepancy, most of the funds are not tax-deductable as they relate to the medicine plant know as marijuana.

While other medicinal financial needs can be deducted, including treatments not evaluated by the FDA, which have not tested marijuana either, yet maintain the claim of ‘no medicinal value’, as well as ‘addictive’ – again providing no proof.

If the FDA does look into marijuana as a medicine they will indeed find the plant to provide many medicinal values, which is why they haven’t looked.  If they do, they will have to change their definition and in turn, change the status of the plant.

Until then, patients are caught in the crosshairs of not only finding safe access difficult, but find financial difficulties as well, which is ironic in that almost 15 years ago, the message of safe and affordable is agreed upon by the majority of voters in California, leading the way for other states to follow the lead.

For the state and federal tax codes to fall so far behind all across the board on this issue, we know have enough time to look back at the body of evidence gathered in the last decade and a half to see the damage done as a result of our tax code not being updating to reflect the will of the people.  These costs should be tax deductible at all level, from the patients who incur costs, to the providers who do as well.

Perhaps part of re-regualting this plant will be to put in place patient and patient-provider protections, including financial protections. Health care costs continue to rise and to now have a way to supplement that, especially for someone on a fixed income, is not compassionate, not safe, and certainly not affordable.