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Los Angeles has a homeless epidemic highlighted by downtown’s ‘skid row.’ Marijuana may soon help ease this epidemic.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve a ballot measure that would see medical marijuana tax proceeds go towards the homeless. This proposed tax would aid Los Angeles’ approved nearly $2 billion housing project to help cope with a 12% increase in homelessness the last two years.

The proposed tax would put a

“10% levy on the gross receipts of businesses that produce or distribute marijuana and related products.”

The tax would purportedly generate roughly $130 million a year in tax dollars that would directly go towards helping get the homeless of the streets and into treatment facilities and low-income housing. The measure’s approval needs a 2/3 vote in favor of the tax, so it’s definitely no sure thing.

Detractors of this proposal believe the measure will hurt patients since it will see dispensary prices rise. However, it’s hard to place a moral argument about using cannabis taxes to benefit the less fortunate.

Moreover, California’s upcoming legalization vote this fall truly holds the key to whether or not this tax even matters. The legal medical marijuana alone only would attribute $13 million a year in tax dollars–so legal marijuana would be the biggest donor to the cause.

The state will not be able to collect taxes on that pending legal industry till 2018.

Bernie Canter

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