The state appears to have a very different view of dispensaries than it did only a few years ago:
The state has begun an effort to collect sales tax from medical marijuana dispensaries, The Associated Press reports.
State officials, facing a $4.7 billion deficit for 2011-13 and needing about a half-billion dollars in extra cuts to the current budget, are looking for money any place they can find it.
The Washington Department of Revenue launched the statewide medical marijuana effort. Spokesman Mike Gowrylow told The AP the department mailed letters to 90 dispensaries and related organizations on Friday, saying medical marijuana is not exempt from state sales tax and dispensaries must collect that money and turn it over to the state. The letter also warned them that dispensaries must also pay the state business and occupation tax.
While some dispensary owners around the state actually boast about their willingness to pay taxes (to show that they can be just as responsible a corporate citizen as any other business owner), they’re still taking a legal risk that other business owners don’t by opening up their operations to government scrutiny. Dispensaries still operate in a very gray area of Washington’s medical marijuana law. This move could lead to greater visibility in the community and higher risks with local officials.
It’s about time we finally fix the law and let these businesses operate in the open. Then tax away.