Oakland Proposes Nation's First Pot Tax

City council approves pot levy; voters to decide in July
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2009 4:55 PM CDT
A binder showcasing high-grade marijuana buds is displayed at the Coffeeshop Blue Sky dispensary in Oakland, Calif.   (AP Photo/Dino Vournas)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Oakland’s city council has approved a provision to apply a 1.8% tax to marijuana sold at medical dispensaries. If voters endorse the measure in July, Oakland would be the first city in the US to tax pot, reports the Wall Street Journal. Backers say it would bring in somewhere between $400,000 and $1 million annually for the cash-strapped city.

The owners of Oakland’s four marijuana dispensaries proposed the tax themselves. "We wanted to further legitimize the medical-marijuana paradigm to show that we are truly willing to assist Oakland, and to show other cities that there are social benefits to this," said one. Not everyone buys it. "What are you doing to do next, allow prostitution and tax that?" asked one opponent. "Allow methamphetamine to be sold and tax that?"