Keep that weed cheap

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Where can I get the cheapest referral?


Anywhere? Seriously, these doctors’ offices are mostly the same. Back in the day, it would cost upward of $100 for a doctor’s recommendation. These days, you can find one for about 40 bucks. Grab a coupon out of this paper and go. Look for a place that has a doctor on-site, ask about court support in case you are arrested (although you probably won’t get dragged into court unless you have pounds and pounds of weed plus hundreds of plants), and have a great time as a cannabis patient.

Your question has me thinking, though. As it stands now, there are about a million cannabis patients in California. a typical recommendation will cost between $40 and $60. You could pay more for one of those “Grow 99 plants!”-type recommendations, but those letters don’t really hold up in court. What if we legalized weed, and instead of an outrageous tax, we just charged folks something like $50 a year for a “weed license”? That’s $50 million off the top (not counting the money we would make from tourists) straight into the coffers of the state. That way, we could lower the proposed taxes and maybe make a dent in the black and gray markets.

Consider that as opposed to a recent proposal from Sen. Mike McQuire, suggesting a 15 percent tax on all medical marijuana sold in California. This would be on top of the taxes cities and counties charge, making the effective tax rate almost 30 percent in some places. Virtually every cannabis advocacy group in California opposes this bill.

Maybe my idea wouldn’t work, but we have to think of ways to keep the pot taxes from being ridiculous. Legislators have to remember that weed is doing fine. It’s the state that needs the money. If you make the taxes and regulations too restrictive, people will go back to their friendly neighborhood weed man and the state will be cut out of the deal. Listen, California’s cannabis sales could top $1 billion a year with no problem. Ten percent of a billion is $100 million. I think an extra $100 million a year, plus the revenues from the licensing and all the other regulatory BS, should be enough money. We will see how it goes, but something has to be done to let legislators know that trying to kill the golden goose is never a good idea.

What’s good?

—Dabben Onnem

It’s all good! Everyone wants in on the weed game: Bernie Sanders talked so much about weed that Hilary Clinton has had to change her stance; Roseanne Barr is opening a dispensary in Santa Ana; the family of Bob Marley has weed that just now got into the shops (and I need to try it); Snoop Dogg just signed a deal to sell cannabis in Canada; Margaret Cho has a line of delicious cannabis flowers available—Margaret and I are on the same boutique cannabis label, BTW; and it looks like Arizona and New Mexico will have cannabis legalization initiatives on the ballot in 2016! Weed stays winning.