Lawmakers want to tax medical pot to protect state's sales



SEATTLE - There's a new tax push designed to level the playing field when it comes to marijuana sales.


Lawmakers want to tax medical marijuana to protect the state's growing recreational marijuana business.


Currently, dispensaries are only supposed to operate what they call community gardens where patients can only share their marijuana with one another.


Some dispensaries on the fringe of the law have been shut down because the laws are somewhat vague.


If lawmakers were to require a 25 percent tax on the sale of medical marijuana, it would legitimize dispensaries, but they would still be operating outside the framework of the state's medical marijuana law as well as the new recreational pot law.


Customers of new state-licensed pot shops expected to pop up near the end of the year will also have to pay a 25 percent sales tax for marijuana.


Some lawmakers are concerned users would avoid paying that tax by getting a medical marijuana prescription from a doctor and going to dispensaries, which currently aren’t taxed.


A 25 percent tax would level the playing field.


But some are asking if lawmakers should eliminate the medical marijuana market altogether, since patients will be able to get pot legally from the state-licensed stores.


They argue there's no reason to have competing marijuana markets.


If the medical marijuana market shuts down, current dispensaries would have to apply for a license and become a commercial operation.