Election ’22: Revised county cannabis tax measure set for ballot | News

This November, voters across Sacramento County will decide whether the county should tax cannabis and hemp businesses if they are allowed to operate in unincorporated communities.

Sacramento County supervisors on July 26 voted 3-2 to advance the tax measure to the November ballot. This measure alone does not allow cannabis companies to operate in unincorporated communities. That legalization requires a separate action by the supervisory board.

Supervisors reviewed an amended version of the proposed cannabis tax measure that failed to pass during their July 12 board meeting. Supervisor Phil Serna, who is a leading proponent of the commercial cannabis tax, revised the measure to improve its chances of making it to the November ballot.

This time, the new tax measure will dedicate its tax revenue to a special fund that will only finance programs to help the homeless. Serna considers homelessness to be the “number one issue at the forefront every day” in the county.

“Will this cure homelessness? Absolutely not. I’ll be the first to admit that,” he told his colleagues. “The way I see it is adding a tool to our toolbox to do what’s expected of us.”

Such a measure for a special tax fund requires at least three supervisor votes to qualify for a November ballot. The previous tax measure that failed on July 12 would have sent cannabis tax revenue to the county’s general fund. That measure required four votes to pass.

Supervisors Sue Frost and Don Nottoli still opposed placing the cannabis tax measure on the ballot.

Frost insisted it’s unfair to have a vote where city voters vote on a measure that only affects unincorporated communities. As District 4 supervisor, she represents unincorporated places such as Rancho Murieta, Herald and Antelope. Frost said a common theme in hearing from her constituents was that the electoral vote is unfair.

“I don’t think it’s fair to unincorporated residents, to have the entire county vote on an issue that could have a dramatic impact on our community, and we already have a drug problem,” he said.

Frost also expressed uncertainty about the plan to use cannabis tax revenue to fund services for the homeless.

“At the end of the day, I’m not sure bringing recreational cannabis into an unincorporated county is worth it,” she said. “I’m not sure how many lives it will affect and how it will affect an already massively exacerbated homelessness problem.”

Nottoli in his annual State of the County address in Elk Grove on July 29 reiterated his opposition to the cannabis tax measure. He emphasized that this is because the voters of the cities have the possibility to vote for the measure.

“So you in Elk Grove, in the city, have the opportunity to vote on it. The same in the city of Sacramento, you have the opportunity to vote on it, and even then the regulatory regime with taxation, as well as activities, will be only in the unincorporated area ” the supervisor said. “That’s one of the reasons I didn’t support him.”

Nottoli represents south county communities like Elk Grove, Wilton and Galt in the 5th District.

The retail sale and commercial cultivation of cannabis is illegal within the city limits of Elk Grove. However, the city borders several unincorporated communities such as Wilton, Franklin, Vineyard and Vintage Park.

In Sacramento County, cannabis businesses can only operate in the cities of Sacramento and Isleton.

More than 300 licensed cannabis businesses operate in the city of Sacramento, according to a report HdL Companies prepared for county supervisors. They reported that the city collected more than $20 million in cannabis taxes during the 2020-21 fiscal year. These businesses pay the city a 4% tax rate.

HdL staff estimated the county could generate $5 million to $8 million annually from licensed cannabis businesses in unincorporated areas.

During the July 12 meeting of county supervisors, Supervisor Rich Desmond noted that the city of Sacramento now collects most of the cannabis tax revenue in the county. He added that cannabis products are still widely sold in unincorporated areas.

“Not only are we leaving money on the table, but we’re letting another municipality make all the decisions about how tax money is spent for something that’s happening with unincorporated county, and I have a big problem with that,” he said. Desmond.

After the original cannabis tax measure failed to advance on July 12, Serna returned with a revised measure to exclusively fund homeless services.

“I think this measure, the way it’s drafted, could bode well for this council: for some of the most vulnerable people who are camping by rivers or sleeping under overpasses today… they feel their only chance is living outdoors. and being very susceptible to adverse impacts on their mental health and that they often, unfortunately, self-medicate,” he said at the July 26 board meeting.

Some members of land conservation and medical cannabis organizations told supervisors they support the new measure.

Dianna Poggetto, the executive director of the American River Parkway Foundation, spoke about homelessness on the parkway.

“As we all know, the avenue is ground zero for homelessness, so any additional resources that can be brought to the county to address homelessness, particularly the avenue, would be greatly appreciated,” he said.

Richard Miller, president of Americans for Safe Access in Sacramento, which advocates for legal access to medical cannabis, told the supervisors about his experience of being homeless.

“I know how hard it is to get out of that situation,” he said. “Most people can’t, and after being on the street for a week, you develop mental issues, so I think it’s really important that we move forward and take that into account.”

Before casting his vote in favor of the new tax measure, Supervisor Patrick Kennedy rejected the idea that cannabis tax revenue should only fund homeless services in unincorporated areas.

“We always talk about the fact that homelessness is a crisis and then treat it like another government program,” he said. “This (tax measure) shows that we are thinking outside the proverbial box in the provision of services. It is certainly not the panacea, nor will it solve homelessness, but we cannot leave any stone unturned to find resources to deal with what is truly an urgent humanitarian crisis”.

Staff writer Lance Armstrong contributed to this story.

Election ’22: Revised county cannabis tax measure set for ballot | News Source link Election ’22: Revised county cannabis tax measure set for ballot | News

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