Standardized Tax Rates for all Marijuana

Rep. Reuven Carlyle and I introduced legislation today to standardize state tax rates across medical and non-medical marijuana. The medical market would now look like the setup initiative 502 put in place for recreational use. The press release we issued is below. My concern is that if we have an identical product being sold with two different tax schemes we are likely to have significant leakage of recreational use into the medical channel. This will create a black market and put us at serious risk of federal intervention.

I expect this to be controversial, but I think it’s important to have an orderly market with no diversion.

Legislative news from Rep. Ross Hunter and Rep. Reuven Carlyle

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Leading Democrats propose standardized tax rates for all marijuana

Two leading House Democrats introduced legislation today that would standardize tax rates for all sales of marijuana.

Sponsored by Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48) and House Finance Committee Chair Reuven Carlyle (D-36), HB 1789 would create a consistent regulatory scheme for marijuana transactions.

“A responsible regulatory system requires that we have consistent, transparent oversight and tracking mechanisms, and that taxes be applied evenly,” said Rep. Hunter, “or we will create a lucrative black market.”

Washington voters approved recreational cannabis use last November with Initiative 502.

“We’re very concerned that having two systems, one almost completely without oversight, would make it difficult to win federal approval for overall marijuana legalization,” said Rep. Carlyle.  “It will distort the market and drive non-medical use inappropriately into the medical channel.”

The House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee will hear HB 1789 this Friday, February, 15th at their 1:30 PM meeting.


For interviews or more information:

Rep. Ross Hunter 360-786-7936 or

Staff: Kristen Mattern 360-786-7936 or

Author: Ross

I am the Director of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State. I formerly represented the 48th Legislative District in the State House of Representatives, chairing the Appropriations committee and spent many a year at Microsoft.

3 thoughts on “Standardized Tax Rates for all Marijuana”

  1. Washington currently taxes other drugs that are available over the counter. If you purchase Aspirin or Ibuprophen you pay the sales tax. The idea here is to have a consistent tax model so there isn’t a black market, which would tend to inhibit federal approval. It is likely that the price will decline as larger, more efficient (and legal) production replaces the small grow operations today.

  2. If we are talking about a standard across the board on taxing then shouldn’t we tax other medical sales say prescription drugs? Talk about closing a revenue wasting gap in the budget. Maybe we should back up and look at the real reason marijuana is illegal in the first place. Lies propaganda and deceit. We the people have voted to legalize mj more than ounce but now because government wants to have a mandatory separation of the process so to triple tax it’s ok to use pot. What makes it ok now the fact that no one has every died from using it or the fact that they can cash in on it? Please people get involved it’s up to us to participate and take this country where WE want it to go. These guys are our public servants and work for US. It’s not the thought that counts it’s action that builds a great nation.

  3. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I began using medical marijuana to deal with severe, chronic pain from osteoarthritis & fibromyalgia, almost three years ago- as a last resort. I did so with the blessing of my orthopedic surgeon & my rheumatologist.
    If I didn’t need it, I wouldn’t use it.

    The argument the legislators that want to tax medical marijuana 25%, is that people who want to use it recreationally, will wangle medical prescriptions to save money.
    That seems to indicate a need for greater oversight on the prescribing practitioners & dispensaries, which I am AOK with, not a mandate to tax medication at 25%.

    The other argument the state reps are using is that an over the counter device that a physician suggests is taxable, however this logic also doesn’t make sense to me.
    Physicians generally will write a prescription for something like a leg brace,( to use my own example), and not only is that covered mostly by insurance, but the deductible is NOT taxable.

    I think it is immoral to attempt to make money off the afflictions of others.

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