Sep 242010

The state Board of Equalization, which last year famously declared that legalizing marijuana could generate $1.4 billion in new tax revenues for California state coffers, has an updated analysis out for Proposition 19, the November ballot measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

This time, the BOE says it is clueless on what legal weed can bring in, Peter Hecht reports in “Weed Wars.”

Officials also said it may take them months – or years – to implement potentially needed systems for collecting new marijuana taxes that may result from Proposition 19.

In its previous analysis, the BOE heavily based its tax revenues estimate on a $50 per ounce pot tax proposed in state legislation by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano. But no such tax is proposed in Proposition 19.

The initiative leaves it up to local governments to tax and regulate retail marijuana operations. Ammiano, D-San Francisco, says he’ll likely pick up his statewide pot tax push in the Legislature if Prop. 19 is approved by voters.

But until then, BOE officials say, don’t expect them to come up with a state pot revenues estimate.

“Proposition 19 does not contain specific provisions at the state level governing taxation or retail sale (of marijuana),” the BOE analysis says. “Local jurisdictions are free to choose to impose licensing fees or implement differing tax schemes or rates. BOE staff is not able to create estimates of marijuana consumption and price at the local level. BOE staff is not able to estimate the impact that legalization, local regulation and taxation will have…”

The BOE currently collects sales taxes on medical marijuana dispensaries. But its analysis says a system for collecting new taxes on potential retail and commercial operations for recreational pot use may not be easy to implement.

“The BOE would need a minimum of 8 months to implement a new marijuana tax or fee program and a minimum of two years to implement a marijuana tax or fee program requiring the application of a stamp program,” the analysis reads, italics included.

To read the new report, click here.

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