After a multiyear effort by advocates, Governor Gavin Newsom announced over the weekend he had signed SB-34, The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act, in support of medical marijuana compassion care programs.
The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act, named for San Francisco’s beloved pioneering medical marijuana activists, would exempt compassionate care programs from state cannabis taxes. For twenty years these programs have provided for low-income patients across the state their medicine for little to no money.
In recent years the programs were devastated by the cost of doing business in California’s developing legal cannabis market. When adult-use sales began almost two years ago on New Year’s Day 2018, there was no mechanism to exempt these programs from the wild tax rates that have helped the illicit market in California grow to three times the legal one. Hence many programs disappeared or withered to a shell of their former selves.
Even worse, many of those patients once participating in the programs lived on fixed incomes. They were likely forced back to the illicit market due to the regulatory overheard consumers are forced to cover in pricing schemes for California’s legal cannabis businesses.
Advocates almost tasted success a year ago. But