How would medical marijuana be taxed if State Question 788 passes?

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Next week, Oklahomans will be voting on a state question regarding the legalization of medical marijuana.

Voters will decide on State Question 788 on next Tuesday, June 26.

Under the state question, a person 18 years or older would need to apply for a medical marijuana license with the Oklahoma State Department of Health after receiving a note from their doctor. If approved, the patient would then have to pay $100 to obtain the license.

While there is much debate about medical marijuana, supporters said it would not only help patients but also help the state's economy.

Bud Scott is executive director of New Health Solutions Oklahoma, which funds the 'Yes On 788' campaign.

"In State Question 788, it has a 7 percent dedicated tax that would be a point-of-sale of medical marijuana products," Scott said. "There’s also a $2,500 fee for any businesses seeking to do business to as a cannabis-related business, so those are really the two dedicated revenue streams that we see in 788."

If the measure passes, officials with the Oklahoma Tax Commission said there will also be additional state and local sales tax charges.

According to the Oklahoma State Health Department, it will cost the agency between $2 and $3 million-a-year to implement the program if State Question 788 passes.

Scott said they have already started looking at projected revenue based on information from other states that have already implemented medical marijuana programs.

"Our estimated projections potentially in year one, we think we could easily be in the range of $15 to $30 million. It all depends on how the program is implemented – that would be for revenue," Scott said. "That’s if we implement this in a timely manner and if the Legislature and health department implement the programs we’re recommending, which is additional licensing fees."

According  to Scott, State Question 788 would direct 75 percent of additional 7 percent "point of sale" tax towards common education. He said 25 percent go towards drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs.

However, some members of the Legislature said they're not convinced the projections are accurate because it's unclear how many products will be sold.

"As far as how much monies the state could get? Well, we don’t really know," said Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City.

Yen, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he is not against medical marijuana but he is against State Question 788. Like some other opponents, he told News 4 it's less about medical marijuana and more recreational.

"In my opinion, if we tax it as 7 percent, that’s not necessarily going to raise a whole bunch of money. It’s going to take a lot of money to build the infrastructure to regulate it," Yen said. "Are you going to come up with a cannabis commission to regulate it? Are you going to have the health department regulate it? Are you going to have the ABLE, Alcohol Beverages… are you going to have them? You’ve got to build that. That takes a whole bunch of money."

On Monday, officials with Gov. Fallin's office said a special session will be called if the measure is approved:

“The governor said today she intends to call a special session if voters approve State Question 788 to address the practical implementation of the proposal. The governor is concerned that the state would not be able to have a system established in 30 days after passage as called for in SQ 788. The governor still plans to talk with Senate and House leadership about a possible special session.”

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