Dispensary owners in San Jose, California, are in a dispute with the city over unpaid taxes.
Five dispensaries reportedly owe more than $2 million in unpaid marijuana business taxes, according to an investigation by the local NBC News affiliate.
The actual tally could be much higher, as San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo called the figure “conservative.”
But one business owner says he doesn’t sell MMJ, rather he is part-owner of a cooperative and those giving him money for marijuana are other co-owners just paying their fair share to be a part of the collective. Because there’s no profit, he said, he shouldn’t have to pay the levy.
He and other rec shop owners also worry that paying the tax is tantamount to admitting they’re doing something unlawful thanks to the wording of the city’s law governing MMJ sales.
One owner told NBC he doesn’t fear being shuttered by the city because the mayor, who was elected by a slim majority of voters, would put his political career at risk. Another owner who’s never paid the marijuana business tax said he’s been fearful of being closed down every day since he opened five years ago.
The mayor told NBC that the city will go after cannabis businesses that aren’t compliant.