California Weed

Draft linked to Sean Parker initiative calls for 15 percent pot tax

A marijuana garden in a remote area of El Dorado county on Thursday, August 20, 2009.
A marijuana garden in a remote area of El Dorado county on Thursday, August 20, 2009. RBenton@sacbee.com

A proposed marijuana legalization initiative backed by former Facebook president and Napster co-founder Sean Parker could allow Californians 21-and-over to possess an ounce of pot and grow six marijuana plants while creating a regulated cannabis industry with a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales.

A 51-page October 14 draft on the much-awaited initiative, obtained by The Bee today, appears to build upon regulations signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this month to impose state oversight on California’s existing medical marijuana industry. The draft, connected with Parker’s name, has circulated as fine-tuning on the measure continues.

Jason Kinney, a spokesman for Parker’s group, declined to authenticate the draft.

“If this was ever our draft, it’s no longer operative,” he said in an email.

The proposed measure – called the Control, Regulate and Tax Marijuana Act – is viewed as the mostly likely to reach California’s November 2016 ballot because of the financial clout of its backers. The effort is expected to include wealthy heirs to the Hyatt Hotel chain and Progressive insurance and the founder of Weedmaps Media, a website and app that guides consumers to marijuana dispensaries.

The draft language differs from that a rival measure recently submitted for the ballot by Reform California, a coalition that includes long-standing California marijuana advocacy groups and the chief financial backer of the unsuccessful Proposition 19 marijuana legalization initiative in 2010.

While the measures differ on taxes, cultivation rules and marijuana industry government, the Reform California measure notably includes anti-discrimination language for medical marijuana users in the workplace and housing that the Parker draft does not.

Another influential group, the Drug Policy Alliance, has been privately circulating a 2016 legalization initiative but hasn’t submitted the measure.

Below are summaries of the draft and a list of key differences in the Reform California initiative, along with links to both documents.

Control, Regulate, and Tax Marijuana Act

Key provisions

▪ Legalizes possession of one ounce of marijuana and cultivation of six plants by adults 21 and over.

▪ Creates a Bureau of Marijuana Control under the state Department of Consumer Affairs to regulate the marijuana industry. This agency will replace the Bureau of Medical Regulation that is to be created under recent regulations signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

▪ Imposes 15 percent taxes on retail sales of recreational marijuana in addition to state and local sales taxes.

▪ Imposes a $9.25-per ounce cultivation tax per ounce of marijuana flowers (or buds) and $2.75-per ounce on marijuana leaves.

▪ Creates 21 marijuana business licenses, including 10 for cultivation, two for manufacturing, one for testing, two for retail sales, one for distribution, one for transporting, and one for cannabis “microbusinesses” allowed to cultivate, transport and sell marijuana.

▪ Imposes an infraction and maximum fine of $100 for possession of more than an ounce of marijuana. Minor violators will complete a drug education course in lieu of a fine.

▪ Allows penalties of a $500 fine or up to six months in county jail for possession of marijuana for sale. Minor violators could get drug education or, in repeat offenses, a fine up to $500 or five days in a juvenile detention facility.

▪ Would apply criminal penalties for driving under the influence for people consuming marijuana while operating a motor vehicle.

▪ Allows people with past convictions for marijuana offenses that would no longer be illegal to petition to have their records cleared.

Read draft here:

Reform California measure – Control, Regulate, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2016

Key differences:

▪ Legalizes adult possession of one ounce of marijuana and cultivation of 100 square feet of plants.

▪ Allows individual marijuana businesses to run multiple levels of the supply line, including cultivation, transportation and sales.

▪ Contains language that aims to protect the rights of medical marijuana patients in the workplace and prevent discrimination by landlords against renters.

▪ Would create a California Cannabis Commission and Office of Cannabis Regulation in Department of Consumer Affairs.

▪ Imposes a 10 percent tax on sales of marijuana and marijuana products.

▪ Would allow a five percent marijuana tax by local governments.

▪ Imposes a $15 per-ounce production tax, with a 10 percent reduction for certain small businesses on the first 500 annual pounds produced.

Click to read initiative

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