For 20 years, Joe Airone rode a bicycle through San Francisco’s Tenderloin, Castro and Mission neighborhoods, delivering #free cannabis to low-income patients with terminal #cancer and #AIDS.
He made his last stop in December, then shut down his group, Sweetleaf Collective, to avoid paying thousands of dollars in annual taxes under state Proposition 64.
He’s among a handful of charities that have stopped handing out pot to severely ill people because they can’t afford the taxes their suppliers pass down to them in a new era of #legalization.
“We gave away more than 100 pounds of cannabis flower to terminally ill patients last year, and we could be taxed on all of that,” said Airone, who goes by the name Sweetleaf Joe. He said he routinely wakes up at night in a panic, thinking about all the people whose pain he can no longer help relieve.
On Thursday, state Sen. Scott Wiener will introduce a bill to ease tax burdens for groups like Sweetleaf Collective. Wiener sees these charities as unintended casualties of Prop 64, which sought to regulate medical and recreational cannabis throughout the supply chain.
“Applying taxes to #compassionate care will shut down collectives, and I can’t imagine that was the intent of voters,” Wiener said.
His bill, SB 829 — co-authored by Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa — would establish a new #medical#license designation for groups that donate cannabis to people with severe ailments. It would exempt these groups from paying a 15 percent state excise tax on cannabis that they are giving away. And it would allow commercial pot farms to donate their surplus crops to these charities without having to pay a cultivation tax.
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