State Revenue Dept. Tries to Collect Taxes From Medical Pot Dispensaries, Even While State Health Dept. Still Considers Them Illegal

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The Washington State Department of Health has long held that while medical marijuana may be legal under certain circumstances, the dispensaries that give the drug to people are most certainly not. This opinion has always seemed a bit weird, considering that dozens of dispensaries operate freely in the state. And it actually just got a lot weirder now that the Washington State Department of Revenue wants these "illegal" dispensaries to start paying taxes.

The AP reports today that the Washington Department of Revenue sent letters to 90 medical pot dispensaries on Friday, telling them that all that weed they've been dispensing, well, it's taxable, and the state is going to go ahead and need some money for it.

This despite the DOH claiming that "the law does not allow dispensaries. The law only allows qualifying patients and designated providers to possess medical marijuana."

The state's new efforts at collecting sales taxes from medical marijuana are centered on the drug's status as not a fully legitimatized prescription medication. Under Washington Administrative Code, drugs that are prescribed by a licensed doctor or medical practitioner and filled by a licensed pharmacy are exempt from most taxes, including sales taxes.

Medical marijuana, however, exists in a bit of a gray area as it's sometimes prescribed by a medical doctor or other licensed practitioner, but it's rarely filled anywhere except one of the many dispensaries in the state.

And since Washington is currently staring at a $4.7 billion defect for the next two fiscal years, grabbing some taxes from hitherto virgin territory is a bit of a no-brainer for the state.

Unfortunately, until the taxes-are-good side of the state government works out its kinks with the drugs-are-bad side, there's going to be a lot of confusion on just what the hell is actually legal when it comes to medical marijuana.

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