Harborside Health Center Presents City of Oakland $360K Medical Cannabis Tax Payment, Brings Needed Revenue to City

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As the City of Oakland struggles with persistent budget shortfalls, an unexpected hero has emerged: the city’s medical cannabis community.

Steve DeAngelo

Steve DeAngelo, Executive Director of Harborside Health Center

We are delighted to be able to make this contribution to our community, and wish the federal government was as enlightened as the City of Oakland. This new source of revenue will disappear if the federal government gets its way.

On Friday September 30th, Harborside Health Center Executive Director Steve DeAngelo presented the City of Oakland with a check for $360,483.33—new tax revenue from the 5% cannabis tax that Oakland’s voters approved last November.

The check represents one-third of Harborside’s annual tax payment to the city, which has totaled $1,081,450.00 in 2011, and establishes Harborside as one of the top ten taxpayers in the city. The 5% medical cannabis tax was approved by Oakland voters in 2010.

The infusion of revenue from the Oakland medical cannabis community is a godsend to the City of Oakland, as it deliberates over increasingly painful ways to cut costs—such as the new proposition to shutter 13 of Oakland’s public schools featured on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate.com this week.

“We are delighted to be able to make this contribution to our community, and wish the federal government was as enlightened as the City of Oakland,” said DeAngelo. “This new source of revenue will disappear if the federal government gets its way.”

State and local tax revenue from cannabis sales is under threat, as agencies of the federal government have taken actions to harass and close regulated dispensaries nationwide. Two weeks ago, Harborside’s bank accounts were closed—for the fourth time since it opened—in response to pressure on the bank from the Treasury Department.

In addition, the IRS has taken the position that dispensaries may not deduct their rent and other normal business expenses, and launched audits of Harborside and dozens of other dispensaries. And just last week, America’s gun dealers were informed not to serve medical cannabis patients.

“Regulated and licensed medical cannabis dispensaries have created tens of thousands of well-paying jobs, and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue nationwide,” said DeAngelo. “We’re not asking for any special treatment—we just want to be treated the same way other businesses and other citizens are treated. What other industry is lining up and asking to be taxed?”

Harborside Health Center is one of four permitted Oakland medical cannabis dispensaries in the City of Oakland. Serving over 80,000 patients, this model dispensary has made huge financial contributions and brought over 100 new living wage jobs to a city beleaguered with financial woes. Many believe that Oakland is a shining example of a city where medical cannabis regulations are not only working, they are helping create new sources of revenue for the local government and jobs for taxpaying residents of the city.

“80% of Americans support the right of medical cannabis patients to have access to their medicine,” said DeAngelo. “So why does the federal government really want to close down regulated distributors and force patients to get their medicine from criminals?”

Initiated by DeAngelo and other leaders in the medical cannabis community, and approved by 80% of Oakland’s voters, a hefty 5% additional sales tax on medical cannabis was implemented last year. The partnership between the medical cannabis community and the City of Oakland has generated a new source of much-needed revenue. The new tax represents an approximately 333% increase from the previous tax of 1.8%.

About Harborside Health Center:
Founded by national cannabis leader Steve DeAngelo in 2005. Harborside Health Center is the nation’s largest not-for-profit model medical cannabis dispensary. The Oakland medicinal cannabis collective offers its 83,000 registered patients free holistic health services, lab tested medicine and education.

‘Out of the shadows and in to the light’ epitomizes DeAngelo’s mission to enlighten the public on the many medicinal and therapeutic benefits of the plant. Mr. DeAngelo is recognized as a national leader and strategist of the cannabis reform movement. He speaks and writes widely on the subject. DeAngelo will be featured in ‘Weed Wars’ on The Discovery Channel this fall.

For more information on Harborside Health Center, call (510) 533-0146 or visit harborsidehealthcenter.com.

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Gaynell Rogers
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