LOS ANGELES, March 5 (UPI) -- Operators of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles are fighting the city's plan to impose a 5 percent tax on gross receipts, calling it a "sin tax."
The tax is up for a vote Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who introduced the proposal, said she believes the tax would bring in at least $10 million a year in a city with a budget gap of $54 million.
A number of California cities already tax medical marijuana and, in most cases operators supported taxation. They argued becoming taxpayers would give them more legitimacy.
In Los Angeles, however, the relationship between the dispensaries and officials soured after the council decided to limit the number of dispensaries to 100. The tax is also higher than other businesses pay.
"The city has done nothing for the patients, and I don't see why the patients have to pay a sin tax. We're not a topless bar," said Yamileth Bolanos, an activist and a dispensary operator. "The city hasn't even been able to enact an ordinance that creates safe access."
A number of officials oppose the tax, including the police chief, sheriff and district attorney. No dispensary operators have come out in favor of the tax, although the campaign against it has been a soft one, with operators urging their customers to vote against it.