San Diego County voters to consider cannabis tax on November ballot

San Diego County voters will be asked to approve a tax system for marijuana businesses in non-integrated areas on the November ballot after the Board of Supervisors passed a marijuana tax decree this week.

In a 4-1 vote, with Superintendent Jim Desmond voting no, overseers agreed Tuesday to add a marijuana tax bill to county books and place a marijuana tax measure on the ballot.

The measure is a step in the board’s plan to expand its cannabis business options to a non-integrated county. By opening the door to new, legal marijuana businesses, county officials hope to eliminate the black market for marijuana and repair the social and economic impact of previous “War on Drugs” policies on minority and low-income communities.

The council considered how to set tax rates on marijuana companies that would cover the cost of developing and managing a cannabis program, including licenses, enforcement and other operations, and would also provide general tax revenue to the county.

Mark Lovelace, a cannabis consultant and former Humboldt County supervisor, described how taxes at various stages of the industry, including cultivation, distribution and retail, add an overall tax rate on a consumer product.

“We recommend setting local tax rates to keep the cumulative rate at or below 30 percent,” he said. “The development of the program itself should be neutral in value for the prefecture. “This leaves available any cannabis tax revenue available for any spending priorities the council may choose: public safety, health and social services, roads and infrastructure, social justice or any other government agency.”

Lovelace said 99 of the 113 local cannabis tax measures introduced in California have passed, but warned that their success depends on the type of tax they approve. A general tax that is not intended for specific expenses or programs requires a simple majority of voters to pass. But a special tax, which devotes money to certain purposes, must win a two-thirds majority. Only two of the six special cannabis tax measures on California ballots have been passed, he said.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher said the county should seek a general tax, adding that the board could decide later how to use the money in the county budget.

“I think using a general tax is the right approach,” Fletcher said. “As a board of directors at a later date we can make decisions about how we will generally commit tax dollars.”

He added that the tax measure should only apply to marijuana businesses in the county that do not have a corporation, saying it would be burdensome for stores within the city limits to pay both county and city taxes.

“It would be disastrous for the county government to start imposing additional taxes on other jurisdictions that already have their own cannabis systems and there would be no compelling argument for their double taxation in terms of local government,” he said.

Desmond did not say why he voted against the plan, but asked if the tax decree would include a charge for marijuana lounges that allow customers to consume the product on the spot. As this could require additional traffic on the surrounding roads, he said it should be taken into account in the tax plan.

“They may have tasting rooms or smoking rooms,” he said. “And no tax was reported for such purposes. We need to recover costs for more sheriffs or law enforcement if they are to use it on the ground. “

Speakers voiced a variety of responses to the proposal, with some saying a total tax rate of 30% would be too high for businesses to remain competitive, while others urged the council to maximize marijuana taxation and use the funds to prevent and enforce .

Lincoln Fish, CEO of Outco, one of the existing cannabis companies in San Diego County, said the excessive tax rates could undermine the county’s goal of regulating marijuana production and sales by driving higher marijuana prices. of illegal shops.

“We are not opposed to taxes, but we want to see them properly implemented and used properly,” Fish said. “There is a myth that cannabis is just a huge profit center. The truth is that most cannabis companies in California are losing real money right now, and a big part of that is taxation. “It makes running a business difficult, but it also forces consumers to go to the black market.”

Cannabis ombudsman Anthony Avalos said taxes should be reduced or removed for new cannabis businesses.

“We need to create a tax plan that not only supports local businesses, but also discourages the proliferation of the old (unregulated) market,” he said. “We need a path for social equality entrepreneurs to be successful. Mere licensing is not enough. “Holders of social share licenses would pay zero taxes for the first seven years of operation.”

Another speaker said taxes should be set high enough to cover public costs, including preventing young people from using marijuana, misleading businesses and imposing a product labeling code.

“This is the principle of recognizing that there are real costs to marijuana use for young adults, families, neighborhoods and society at large,” he said. “The cost is extremely high only in the cost of mental health.”

The board will make a final vote on the decree and tax measure at its meeting on June 14 and place it on the ballot in November.

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San Diego County voters to consider cannabis tax on November ballot Source link San Diego County voters to consider cannabis tax on November ballot

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