The California Supreme Court issued a ruling on August 28, 2017 in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland that may have created a loophole for special interests to get around the limitations on tax increases established by Propositions 13 and 218. In the instant case, an initiative was proposed in Upland, California to repeal an ordinance banning medical marijuana dispensaries and instead allow up to three dispensaries to obtain permits, subject to an "annual Licensing and Inspection fee" totaling $75,000. Since this fee exceeds the costs incurred by the government for issuing the license, it is considered a general tax. Normally, such taxes can only be heard at general elections, but an exception was made and the initiative was voted on in a special election.
Medical marijuana use was authorized in the state of California by the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 which provided guidelines for individuals and businesses to cultivate, use, and distribute cannabis within California. This Act did not "legalize" medical marijuana, but instead legislated the absence of punishment for specific marijuana-related offenses under state law. All activities related to marijuana of any kind continue to be an offense at the federal level.
Today the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued guidance for financial institutions who seek to provide services to marijuana-related businesses in light of recent state initiatives to legalize certain marijuana-related activities. See FIN-2014-G001. A stated goal of today's guidance is to "enhance the availability of financial services for, and the financial transparency of, marijuana-related businesses."