California’s Compassionate Use Act, the 1996 law that made this state the first in the country to allow medical marijuana, gave patients with serious illnesses a means to access cannabis products for free through small, non-profit collectives and dispensaries. However, since the passage of Proposition 64 in 2016, wherein California voters approved cultivation and sales of the drug for recreational use, funding for low-income patients qualified for medical marijuana through CUA has run dry.
Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know this is largely thanks to the fact that with legalization came a flood of state and local taxation. The drug is taxed at virtually every stage – from seed to sale – making it difficult if not impossible for patients to access the drug at lower costs as they once did. Marijuana is taxed largely the same whether it’s donated for medicinal use or sold for profit. The markup can be as much as 40 percent.
Patients who have relied on cannabis as a daily use medicinal said the prices have resulted in the plant being out of reach. Some point to this as yet another piece of the puzzle as to why the black market thrives. Low-income patients, veterans and others face buying illegal stock or else going without altogether. Some providers who were once paying $10-per-patient suddenly were suddenly paying $100-a-patient after Prop. 64.