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A San Diego-based association of medical marijuana providers said on Saturday that no public vote will be needed to approve medical marijuana taxes proposed by Mayor Bob Filner.

“After careful independent analysis, it appears evident that a public vote will not be needed for the tax provisions of the medical marijuana ordinance proposed by Mayor Filner for the City of San Diego,” medical marijuana distributors’ trade association the United Patients Alliance (UPA) said in a prepared statement.

The mayor’s proposal contains a recurring fee of $5,000 per year for all medical cannabis dispensaries. Such fees are standard cost recovery fees, used to pay for additional public services incurred by business establishments

The proposal also contains a 2 percent tax on wholesale marijuana acquisitions made by medical cannabis collectives from members who cultivate. Additionally, if a dispensary provides its own medical cannabis directly, they will be taxed 2 percent of the wholesale value of the medicine they grow.

“Such taxes do not qualify as retail sales taxes, since they are placed on the business, not the end consumer, and, therefore, are exempt from public vote requirements,” the UPA’s statement reads. Excise taxes are most commonly placed on alcohol and tobacco.

“The medical cannabis industry is supportive of such fees,” the UPA said.

“We providers wish to be responsible, contributing members of the community, and part of this is paying our fair share,” said Bob Riedel, vice president of the UPA. “Medical cannabis distributors can contribute positively to the economy in many ways: through creating good paying jobs and lowering unemployment, through our rent contributions and lowering the building vacancy rate, as well as through our fees and taxes to the city and state.”

“Those in need of medical cannabis have had to go to the black market,” said Ken Cole, president of the UPA. “No one wins.

“This ordinance will provide patient protection and a safe environment,” Cole said. “The city will have less of a burden and expense trying to eliminate the underground element.

“We have a Mayor that believes California state law allowing safe access to medical cannabis should be upheld in the city of San Diego,” Cole said. “This is a good thing and we want to make sure that his efforts are realized.

“Regulated medical cannabis dispensaries will serve the needs of patients and their caregivers in the community, drive away black market street dealers, and will bring favorable economic development to our city,” Cole said. “The UPA supports the vision of Mayor Filner in the recognition the potential of this industry.

“This ordinance will enhance public safety, quality of life of patients, positively impact the economy and to the city’s revenue stream,” Cole said. “We hope that the City Council also recognizes these positive impacts and works to enact Mayor Filner’s proposal as soon as possible.

“Patients are in entitled to a low cost, low risk, pain medication and this city is in need of employment,” Cole said. “This ordinance proposal helps the City’s budget, helps patients and helps the local economy. It is a win-win-win.”


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