A tax on medical marijuana could generate some $400,000 for the city over the next five years, according to an estimate from the city's top financial official released Tuesday.
Washington's Office of the Chief Financial Officer provided the estimate to the D.C. Council, which has proposed taxing marijuana as part of budget negotiations.
The council passed legislation earlier this year that permits residents with certain medical conditions such as HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, cancer and multiple sclerosis to purchase marijuana to help with their illnesses.
Now the budget that council members are expected to vote on June 15 includes a provision that would impose the city's 6 percent sales tax on medical marijuana sold in the city.
The finance office says that an ounce of marijuana is expected to cost an average of $350 in Washington. Adding the 6 percent tax would mean users would pay another $21 in taxes on an ounce of marijuana. Users are expected to purchase an average of an ounce per month and would therefore pay about $252 in taxes over the course of a year. The city's law, however, would let users purchase up to 2 ounces of marijuana per month.
The district's financial office estimated about 100 users would fill prescriptions for medical marijuana in the 2011 fiscal year, netting the city just under $27,000. That is expected to grow to approximately 850 users by 2014, generating approximately $213,000 for the city that year. Adding the expected revenue for the fiscal years 2011 through 2014 got the financial office to about $400,000.
District residents approved an initiative legalizing medical marijuana in 1998, but Congress had kept it from going into effect until December. The council then passed legislation implementing the initiative. City officials still have to do more work before the first person receives medical marijuana, however.
For example, the city needs to develop and provide patients cards stating they are legally allowed to have marijuana.
Fourteen states allow patients to obtain marijuana for medical use.