BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Members of the House Ways and Means Committee heard a bill that’s looking to tax marijuana but not recreational marijuana. Instead, this is aimed at taxing medical marijuana. The bill debated this morning is actually a companion of another bill by the same lawmaker that’s looking to expand medical marijuana in all its forms. As opposed to keeping it where it’s at with just the oil-based forms.
“I think if my other bill doesn’t pass, we’re effectively killing the medical marijuana program in Louisiana,” said author of the bill Representative Tanner Magee (R) of Houma, LA.
The bill addresses that the tincture, or oil-based form of marijuana is not taxed because it’s classified as a prescription drug not to mention its expensive to process.
“What this bill does is it just taxes the flower. It’s cheaper, its more affordable, it’s better for the people who want to do it, it’s what the consumers want,” said Magee.
Magee says he understands that we would not want to tax ourselves out of the market either.
“It allows you to apply just the state not the local 4.45% sales tax on the smokable marijuana that we’ve all had experience within some form or fashion,” Magee explained.
Other members of the committee in support, emotionally shared testimony about those they knew who claimed marijuana was the only thing that gave them comfort.
“Whenever you talk to their children, and they come to you crying saying I had to go find some illegally and I’m a law-abiding citizen to give my father comfort it brings tears to my eyes today,” said Representative Phillip Devillier (R) of Eunice, LA.
The idea is that the smokable form of the plant would be two-thirds cheaper than the tinctures even with the sales tax included. And they could then use the money from the pot to fill some potholes in our roads.
“Right now, the money is being dedicated into the transportation sub-fund so we can build some roads out of it as well,” said Magee.
But the bill was not met without opposition. David Brown is the owner of one of the nine marijuana pharmacies in Louisiana. And although he supports expanding the options for treatment, he did not support the tax. And lawmakers didn’t like that he can sell his products at whatever price the patient is willing to pay.
“Respectfully I think it’s really disingenuous for you to come and oppose this tax,” said Representative Jason Hughs (D) of New Orleans, LA.
“The wholesale, wait, the wholesale price is actually, ugh, haha okay,” said Brown.
“You’re marking the price up you’re not even telling me how much you’re marking it up and there’s really no cap,” said Hughs.
“With the wholesale prices not comparable to the rest of the country, what are you gonna do you actually have a business to run as well,” said Brown.
“If we don’t do this, you’re gonna go back home and your people are gonna call you the stupidest legislature on the entire, including me not just ya’ll us, because this is what they want. They know that they want the revenue attached to it, they see it as the future, it’s overwhelmingly popular,” Magee said in his closing remarks.
The bill was ultimately passed. It will now move to the house floor for further debate.
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