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

Can I get an update on the Legislature? They seem to be hella busy lately.


You are correct. The Legislature has been working hella hard to get a bunch of bills out of suspense. A bill being held “in suspense”? They make it sounds so … suspenseful. “What’s gonna happen? Who knows? We will let you know right after this commercial.” Anyway, there were a bunch of bills about marijuana in the suspense file. Which bills lived and which bills died? I have a list of winners:

Assembly Bill 1575, D-Rob Bonta, Oakland: This is what’s known as a “cleanup” bill. The idea is to fix a few things from the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act.

AB 2516, D-Jim Wood, Eureka: This bill creates a new, smaller state license for medical-marijuana growers. This new license would be known as a “Type 1C”, or “specialty cottage,” license. Type 1C growers would be allowed to cultivate 2,500 square feet or less of total canopy size for mixed-light cultivation, up to 25 plants for outdoor cultivation, or 500 square feet or less of total canopy size for indoor cultivation.

AB 2243, Wood: More taxes. This one is about restrictions on growth and production for cannabis distributors.

Senate Bill 987, D-Mike McGuire, Healdsburg: Even more taxes. 15 percent this time, statewide. On everything!

One bill not going to the ball this year is AB 2740, by D-Evan Low, Campbell. This bill would have made it illegal to drive with a small amount of THC in one’s bloodstream. It’s a good thing this bill failed, because studies have shown that, arguably, stoned drivers aren’t a high risk.

I like AB 1575 and AB 2516, but the two tax bills need to go away. There is no reason to start imposing taxes before the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation—the BuMMR—has even figured out what the market will bear. Keep in mind that medical-marijuana users already pay state sales tax and that many cities already impose an extra tax on top of that. Considering the fact that marijuana is the only medicine that people have to pay taxes on anyway, it seems like legislators are trying to kill the goose before it even starts to lay eggs.

Marijuana made about $50 million in taxes last year, and that’s just from the clubs that paid taxes. I expect the new BuMMR regulations will lead to increased revenue, especially as towns that used to be against medical cannabis start allowing cultivators and dispensaries in their jurisdictions.

Speaking of taxes, Sacramento voters will have a chance to vote on Measure Y, a proposed 5 percent tax on commercial growers. The money will go to a special children’s fund. This is a good idea, but you see what I am saying about politicians expecting marijuana to pay for just about everything.