Two legislators have filed bills that could create a mechanism that will allow Louisiana to apply the state sales tax to medical marijuana.
Taxing any prescription medication in the state is disallowed under the state Constitution. So state Rep. Major Thibaut, D-New Roads, has proposed a bill asking voters to approve a repeal of the constitutional amendment that would allow sales taxes on prescriptions, as well as food for home consumption, natural gas, electricity, and water.
If voters agree to that constitutional change, a bill introduced by state Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, could become the way the state could levy the sales tax on medical marijuana if it passes. The bill specifies that the four-cent sales tax would apply to the “quarterly gross sales of any licensed medical marijuana facility.”
As a freshman legislator, it is Magee’s first bill.
The bill comes as legislators are trying to close a $960 million budget shortfall, but if it passes, it will have no impact on the current fiscal year. The bill is subject to the passage of the constitutional amendment, which won’t be voted upon until November if Thibaut’s bill passes.
It’s also not clear when medical marijuana will actually be sold in Louisiana. Although a framework for legalizing medical marijuana passed last year, it’s still not clear how LSU — the designated grower of the drug — will set up a way to cultivate marijuana.
State Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, was the author of last year’s medical marijuana legislation. Mills said Tuesday that he’s skeptical about whether Louisiana voters would be willing to vote themselves a tax increase on necessities like water, food and prescription drugs. And he said he never envisioned taxing medical marijuana when he first introduced his bill.
“It was never in my thought process,” Mills said. “If someone’s going to get medical marijuana, probably the insurance isn’t going to pay for it. If they have cancer or epilepsy or a debilitating condition, it’s maybe a last resort drug. I just don’t know how these people afford an additional cost.”
Bill HLS 161ES-224: 2016 First Extraordinary Session : HOUSE BILL NO.81
BY REPRESENTATIVE THIBAUT