Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Tax Proponent Aims Lower; State Rep. Steve Farley Now Wants 100 Percent Tax, Not 300 Percent

State Representative Steve Farley, D-Tucson, plans to amend his proposed 300 percent tax on medical marijuana, lowering the tax rate to 100 percent of the retail cost.

The amendment, which hasn't yet been posted online, also details where the new revenue would go. Farley's assistant tells New Times that the amendment will stipulate that money raised by the tax would first go to restore funding for organ transplants, then to to "provide acute care services" for impoverished Arizonans, and finally to reimburse the state departments of Public Safety and Health Services for any expenses "related to the quality, safety and enforcement of medical marijuana regulations."

It sounds like Farley's coming to his senses, but a 100-percent tax is still unreasonably high if the medical pot costs $400 an ounce, as predicted.

We checked in with Farley's office after seeing brief mention of the new plan on a blog written by local attorney Rick Keyt, who said he heard something about it on the radio.

Farley, however, never returned a message we left for him. We still want to ask him what caused him to consider the lower tax rate, and whether he was concerned about all the homegrown operations that'll pop up if his tax plan puts the dispensaries out of business.

It's probably all for naught, anyway. The Republican majority doesn't like to see Democratic lawmakers win anything, and there's no reason why Farley's bill should be an exception. If Republicans want to tax weed, we expect they'll want to do it themselves. Last month, state Attorney General Tom Horne cleared the way for regular state and city sales taxes to apply to retail medical pot sales.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.