The tax on medical marijuana will be the same as taxing any other product in the state, whether it be candy or furniture. That’s a 6.6 percent state tax and between 2 percent and 3 percent for cities, said Anthony Forschino, assistant director of the state Department of Revenue.
Arizona voters approved medical marijuana in November, making the state the 15th in the nation to pass such a law.
The measure will allow patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and other chronic or debilitating diseases to buy 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks or grow a limited number of plants themselves if they live 25 miles from a dispensary.
Patients could begin buying pot with a doctor’s recommendation in the state this summer.
Pot shops will have to get a sales tax license just like any other business, and the department will monitor whether they are paying taxes, as it does with all other stores, Forschino said.
Attorney General Tom Horne, who opposed the medical marijuana measure, said now that it has been approved, it should not be exempt from taxes even though it may benefit patients with chronic, debilitating diseases.
“You go to the store, you buy things that are hopefully 100 percent beneficial, and it gets taxed because it’s a revenue source,” he said. “This is no different than anything else.”
Horne estimates that the state stands to receive $40 million annually in revenues from taxing medical marijuana.
Those hoping to open dispensaries this summer will have to compete for just 124 spots, and the state Department of Health Services expects up to thousands of applications.
Dispensary hopefuls will have to pay up to $5,000 to apply for a license and meet many other requirements. Finalized rules that dispensaries must follow will come out at the end of March after a public comment period.