Just days into the New Year, California will see its last compassionate care cannabis service shut its doors, marking the end of an era.
Sweetleaf Collective in San Francisco is a charity organization which for years has donated medical marijuana to low income HIV/AIDS and cancer patients. Under the old regulations of Proposition 215, compassionate care services like Sweetleaf were able to give donations and samples to patients in need without having to pay cumbersome sales taxes.
But since the beginning of 2018, California has ushered in a new set of regulations for legal adult use which requires sales taxes on donations. So companies like Sweetleaf are forced to pay thousands of dollars in taxes even though they don’t earn a profit off of their marijuana distribution.
This, obviously, has been a problem for Sweetleaf, which is why the service will shutter on January 9, 2019. The company had one last giveaway just before Christmas, offering patients eight ounces of marijuana.
“Last year, we were able to give away 100 pounds of cannabis for free,” Joe Airone, Sweetleaf’s founder, told High Times. “And, this year, they’re telling us it’s going to be a five to six-figure tax bill if we do that same thing.”
Airone says that the consequences of a sudden shortage for patients could be serious.
“Lives are on the line and, if we don’t solve this, people will die,” he said. “With Prop. 64, non-profits weren’t invited to the table to talk about what we would need with this new law. So, that means, they made no distinction between commercial and non-commercial cannabis.”
In response to this issue, San Francisco State Senator Scott Weiner has introduced a new measure, SB 34, which would remove all taxes from compassionate cannabis donations. If it passes, the new bill would be enacted this June.
Photo via Flickr user Dank Depot