Los Angeles is desperate to find a way to reverse (or at least slow down) the rise in its homeless population. The number of homeless people in LA has risen by 12 percent in the last two years, and the number of chronically homeless people has risen by 55 percent since 2013, according to the LA Times.
To combat this trend, the city is trying to figure out how to put a whole lot of money together, and has proposed nine different methods to raise these funds. Among them are an increase in the general city sales tax, a new real estate sales tax, a billboard tax, and, of course, a cannabis excise tax of 15 percent, according to KPCC.
LA’s plan to create a wave of new affordable housing and housing vouchers is projected to cost between $1.8 and 2.2 billion, according to an inter-departmental correspondence. Enacting this plan would likely take at least a few different fundraising methods to pull off. The marijuana tax alone would raise only approximately $16.7 million a year (more if the legalization ballot passes this November).
This is not the first time in very recent history that a marijuana excise tax has been brought up in California. Earlier this year, California State Senator Mike McGuire (D-Sonoma County) proposed a statewide 15 percent sales tax on cannabis to pay for a cannabis regulation office. The most popular initiative to legalize recreational weed in the Golden State (the NORML-sponsored California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act) would also impose a 15 percent sales tax.
There’s no question that the city has to do something about its housing crisis, and many kind-hearted hippy stoners wouldn’t mind helping out their fellow man by chipping in to help get the homeless on their feet. But compounding these taxes might also drive a lot of marijuana patients into the black market. LA already imposes a 5 percent sales tax and the state has a 12.5 percent tax on cannabis.
So, adding one of these proposed excise taxes would up the total tax on a bag of weed to a steep 27.5 percent, enough to make even the most law-abiding patient consider calling a shady friend of a friend.
Photo via Flickr user David Gach