As perhaps one of the most covered national elections has unfolded, many Americans did not focus on their state elections as closely. The legalization of marijuana was a popular ballot item in many states. Some states already allowed for its medical use, asked its residents to expand it for recreational use as well. Other states, which still considered marijuana illegal chose to take a step towards legalization by legalizing the drug for medical use only. In 2016, four states legalized marijuana for recreational use
On the recreational side, California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine all passed the recreational use of marijuana. While each state had its little quirk, the states uniformly allowed the drug to be legal for adults over the age of 21. In all states it will be illegal to drive while consuming the drug and one cannot drive under the influence of it.
The amount of possession varied amongst the states. In California, Nevada and Massachusetts, the amount of concentrated pot was mixed but they all allow an individual to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Maine was the outlier and allows for possession of up to 2.5 ounces in public. All of the states will continue to disallow its use in public, however.
Being that the drug is new on the market, it will be interesting to see how the states regulate and tax the product. Will it be taxed along the lines of a state’s tobacco taxing regime or will an entire new structure be created? Will it be taxed at the wholesale level, the retail level, or both? Many states, like California, have punted on this issue. California allowed until 2018 to set up parameters for retailers to sell it. So, for now, one is allowed to possess it in California, but it is illegal to sell. Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine have set up similar contingencies. Needless to say, there will be much more to come on this topic.
About the author: Mr. Donnini is the president and founder of Tobacco Tax Refunds, Inc. He is also multi-state sales and use tax attorney and an associate in the law firm Moffa, Sutton & Donnini, PA, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mr. Donnini has extensive knowledge handling wholesale tax controversy and refunds.
In his law practice Mr. Donnini's primary practice is multi-state sales and use tax as well as state corporate income tax controversy. Mr. Donnini also practices in the areas of federal tax controversy, federal estate planning, Florida probate, and all other state taxes including communication service tax, cigarette & tobacco tax, motor fuel tax, and Native American taxation. Mr. Donnini obtained his LL.M. in Taxation at NYU. Mr. Donnini is licensed to practice law in Florida. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact him via email [email protected] or phone at 954-639-4496.