HARRISBURG — State Rep. Greg Rothman is proposing a bill that would put a 6 percent sales tax on medical marijuana and an 11.5 percent tax on recreational marijuana if it’s ever legalized in Pennsylvania.
The conservative Republican says he is hoping to spark a broader debate on tax reform.
“There will be people who are opposed to it because they don’t want to see the sales tax imposed, but the reality is we have at least a one-and-a-half billion dollar deficit here that we fix by borrowing money from future generations, so I think it’s my responsibility as a legislator to find ways to fill that hole,” said Rothman, R-Hampden.
Medical marijuana is legal in at least 29 states. Many of those states already have a sales tax on the medicine.
VS Strategies, a pro-legalization research company in Denver, released a report that shows how much money Colorado makes on recreational and medical marijuana. According to the report, Colorado has a 2.9 percent sales tax on medical marijuana and has raised nearly $40 million since 2014.
Overall, the report says Colorado has raised more than half a billion dollars in cannabis-related revenue since 2014. Colorado reportedly uses that money for things like criminal justice and public safety, education and drug prevention and treatment programs
Some critics say legislators should not tax medicine.
“We call it medical marijuana but the FDA hasn’t called it medical, so at least we should tax it until it is defined as medicine by the federal government,” Rothman said.
Rothman said he would also like to see the state assemble a task force to look at how Pennsylvania could restructure its tax code.