News » Pot Brownies in Maine To Be Taxed At 7%
November 9, 2011 by Aaron Turpen
Pot brownies, and all other prepared foods that include cannabis, may become subject to a 7% state sales tax rate. Maine already taxes medical marijuana at 5%. The Maine Revenue Service (how tax collecting can be called a “service” while holding a straight face is another subject entirely) has determined, in essence, that how you ingest your medicine will determine it’s tax rate – at least for cannabis.
It should be noted, before we continue, that were this, say, aspirin in pill form versus liquid form, it would never be the subject of the same tax scheme without igniting a huge political backlash.
The Maine Revenue “Service” opinion was issued to the legislature and is expected to face heavy opposition from the MMJ community in Maine. “Sometimes [eating it] is the best delivery method for people,” says Paul McCarrier, board member of Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine. “For some people it is their only delivery means.” Taxing it separately, he says, is just wrong. MMCM opposes all taxes on MMJ.
The State of Maine, however, sees it differently. After the 2009 referendum passed with a 60% vote in the state, the bill was “reworked” by a task force named by the governor at the time, John Baldacci, becoming law in 2010. Part of those changes made by the task force included a provision that denied medical marijuana the same tax-free status as other medications.
Since then, the Maine Revenue “Service” has been enforcing a 5% sales tax. Now they want more.
Further, the MRS states, a “food product containing medical marijuana is not a grocery staple because it is not ordinarily consumed for human nourishment” and is therefore not exempt from taxes as a food either. The “Service,” of course, stresses that they’re “just interpreting Maine law.”
Many state representatives, including Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea) say they think the law should be re-considered and that medical marijuana should not be taxed at all. “My personal opinion is that it should not be taxed,” says Sanderson.
Representative Anne Haskell (D-Portland) served on the task force that drafted the legislation that is now Maine law on MMJ and says that discussion of taxing medical marijuana was short and claims that the committee didn’t have time to thoroughly go through all aspects of the recommended legislation. She agrees that the issue should be reconsidered.
The trouble now is that the Maine Revenue “Service”, quite cannily, did not submit their opinion until after the deadline for submitting bill requests had passed. So the issue may not be considered in January despite legislative support from both sides of the political aisle.
Legislative leaders may consider an exemption to allow a late submission, however.
[source Bangor Daily News]
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