Article: Cannabis Wire – California: Donated Cannabis May Get a Tax Break

Here’s the introduction to their piece


A bill on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk could make it more affordable for cannabis operators to donate cannabis to medical patients. Senate Bill 34 would remove state taxes imposed on such donations by the fine print in the law that legalized adult use cannabis three years ago.

To explain: In the early days of medical cannabis in California, there were no dispensaries. Patients who had a doctor’s recommendation, but lacked funds, often received cannabis through charitable programs that donated it.

But decades later, the legal framework that accompanied Proposition 64—which voters approved in 2016 to legalize cannabis for adult use—required all cannabis, whether sold for profit or donated, to be taxed the same, threatening the future of these programs by sticking licensees with a tax bill for their donated goods. In other words, operators are now forced to pay taxes on their donated medicine, creating a financial disincentive that has caused many of these compassionate care programs to shutter.

But a bill that squeaked through in the final days of the state’s 2019 legislative session, Senate Bill 34, could reverse that trend if signed by Newsom. The bill would exempt operators from paying state excise taxes, retail taxes, and cultivation taxes, if the cannabis or cannabis products are donated to patients with valid medical recommendations. Meanwhile, the donated product would still make its way through the legal track-and-trace system, bringing with it the same testing and packaging requirements as for-profit cannabis.

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