Thursday, August 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Taxing Medical Marijuana Is Dopey, Legal Expert Says

NJ recently decided to tax medical marijuana, which a Villanova Law School professor says is ridiculous.

Taxing Medical Marijuana Is Dopey, Legal Expert Says

A Villanova University Law School professor is skewering New Jersey officials who decided to tax medical marijuana. 

James Edward Maule says in his blog, Mauled Again, that the officials should have simply done their homework.  Clearly, he said, prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs are exempted from the state's 7 percent sales tax according to the state's tax law.  Medical marijuana should enjoy the same tax break. 

NJ officials would argue that medical marijuana is NOT a prescription drug because the feds don't recognize it as legal.   Doctors write "authorizations" for patients who qualify to receive marijuana to alleviate pain and nauseau. 

"What's the difference?  I would guess that the doctor would write this authorization on the same pad that he writes his prescriptions on," Maule says.  

NJ officials also go on about how marijuana is not an over-the-counter drug because you can't buy it off a pharmacy shelf and it is not labelled as such. 

"Hello?" the good professor asks.

He suggests the officials should keep reading. 

Section 54:32B-8.1 of the tax law defines a drug as “a compound, substance or preparation, and any component of a compound..." that is either recognized as a pharmaceutical OR is "intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease" Or "intended to affect the structure or any function of the body."

Maule says medical marijuana sure seems to "fit within the definition of a drug" because the Health Department says it can be used by sick people once their doctors certify it may help mitigate against their cancer, multiple sclerosis or other illnesses.    

Then again, he cautions that there may be "some provision tucked away in some obscure place" that could cloud the issue. But he couldn't find any.  He also wonders why the legislators didn't simply insert a clause in the bill saying it either is exempt or it is not exempt from a sales tax.   

There is no consistency on the tax issue among the 18 states that allow medical marijuana.  Some do, others don't, and still others are researching it. 

Maule tells his law school students that these are the kinds of issues they someday may have to analyze to come up with answers. 

Jan Hefler
About this blog

Written by Inquirer staff writer Jan Hefler, the Burlco Buzz blog covers breaking news in the the county, as well as its quirky characters, crime cases, politics, outdoor recreation and environment. Contact Jan at jhefler@phillynews.com.

Jan Hefler
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected