Compassionate Cannabis and California Senate Bill 829

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Sweetleaf Collective Joins with Other California Compassion Care Programs in Advocacy of Senate Bill 829, Keeping Compassionate Cannabis Un-taxed

If passed, SB 829 would exempt qualifying compassionate care programs from state cultivation and excise taxes by creating non-commercial licenses for them to operate under. 

August 6, 2018 (Los Angeles, CA) – Sweetleaf Collective is a donation based charity organization that has been providing free medical cannabis to HIV/AIDS and Cancer patients throughout California’s Bay Area since medical cannabis became legal in 1996.  However, due to an oversight in how Proposition 64 was drafted, legalizing adult-use cannabis on January 1, 2018, Sweetleaf and other compassionate care programs serving medical cannabis patients are now being forced to pay high taxes on a product that is neither bought nor sold.

This has effectively crippled numerous donation programs leading to mass closures, cutting the flow of free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged individuals with medical illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and other life-threatening conditions. This had led Sweetleaf Collective to partner with other compassion projects to fix the issues limiting access of compassionate cannabis to low-income Californians.

Last year Sweetleaf alone gave away more than 100 pounds of medical cannabis to low-income terminally ill patients. The organization has been told that if they give away the same amount in 2018 then they would have a tax liability of $200,000, making their participation in the compassion cannabis industry incredibly cost prohibitive.

“These new laws make no distinction between commercial (for sale) and non-commercial (free to those in need) cannabis. Free cannabis that is given away is being taxed like it is being sold. Some people have chosen to work outside of the law to continue providing cannabis to patients without a permit. People are calling this black market philanthropy. Some groups like Sweetleaf have created a supply chain within the regulated market using permit holders who support compassionate cannabis for legally licensed patients.” – Joe Airone, Founder of Sweetleaf Collective

Fortunately SB 829 would exempt qualifying compassionate care programs from state cultivation and excise taxes, by creating a non-commercial license for them to operate under. Once the Bureau of Cannabis Control certifies a compassionate care program it will receive a non-commercial license, which will allow cultivators to donate their cannabis without having to pay the cultivation tax.

Sweetleaf believes the association of compassion projects working on this bill has been incredibly dynamic, creating positive momentum. Active Veteran’s groups have personally spoken with many of the politicians involved in these committees. Originally California state Republicans had stated that they would vote no on this bill, but after veteran’s groups like Operation EVAC with Ryan Miller and Weed for Warriors with Sean Kiernan met with them there was a change in perception as to the importance of medical marijuana use. Fortunately most of the Republican assemblyman were veterans themselves and now understand that this is not a “Republican vote no on cannabis” issue, but a “Veterans voting yes for Veterans” issue.

“This is very important as the bill is addressing the taxes. When any taxes are raised or lowered, it will require a super majority vote. That means 67% of the assembly will need to vote yes to push this bill forward. It is extremely important that we spread the word. Everyone who is a Californian needs to call their state assembly representatives and tell them to vote yes on SB 829. “  – Sweetleaf Joe

The vote in the assembly will take place this month, which means there isn’t much time to gain the necessary momentum to pass this bill. This issue is incredibly important to patients all across the state of California, and if passed, terminally ill people will once again be able to receive free cannabis. This can help reduce suicide rates among Veterans suffering from PTSD, reduce deaths among children suffering from seizures, help cancer patients, and many more financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions

Join in and support SB 829!

Media Contact

Sweetleaf Joe

(415) 756-8653

IG: @sweetleafbayarea

About Sweatleaf Collective

The Sweetleaf Collective began in 1996 in San Francisco, California, the birthplace of medical marijuana and the cannabis compassion movement. When they began, Sweetleaf provided cannabis to 5 AIDS patients. Now they provide free medical cannabis to more than 150 low income terminally ill patients. Sweetleaf remains committed to providing compassionate access to underserved communities. Sweetleaf delivered cannabis to these patients homes by bicycle, as many of them have mobility issues and are housebound.

Emerald contributor since March 2012


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