Proposed Cannabis Business Tax

For many years, Santa Cruz County voters have strongly supported state and local laws that provide for the compassionate and safe use of medicinal cannabis by prescription. At the same time, I have heard from many people in the Fifth District who asked that access to medical marijuana be balanced with environmental and neighborhood protection.

As a result, the Board of Supervisors has worked with medical marijuana providers, patients, neighborhood groups and others to craft policies surrounding the cultivation and dispensing of medical marijuana. The goals are to allow cannabis to be responsibly cultivated, distributed, delivered and dispensed without the environmental and neighborhood problems that have occurred with irresponsible cultivation and dispensaries.

Throughout the process, the County and local medical marijuana industry worked to ensure that environmental protections were maintained and that only responsible medical marijuana businesses that operate within our local ordinance would be allowed. These laws respect the needs of medical patients, and their caregivers, as well as legitimate medical cannabis businesses. They also protect our neighborhoods and
land from illegitimate operators who damage our forests, divert water from our streams and act without respect for our community.

However, the County needs additional revenues to ensure that environmental
protection, neighborhood integrity and public safety are maintained.

On Nov. 4, county voters will be asked whether our county should have a business tax on medical marijuana dispensaries to help balance those issues.

If approved, Measure K will levy a 7 percent tax specifically on local medical marijuana dispensaries. The local Association of Standardized Cannabis, which is a collective of medical marijuana dispensaries, supports the tax as a way to support public health and safety, environmental protection and other services. All revenue collected will stay local.

A number of other California communities, including Oakland and San Jose, have a similar type of tax. The Santa Cruz County tax structure is modeled after the San Jose tax. The City of Santa Cruz will also have a tax measure on their November ballot, Measure L, which mirrors the County’s proposal. If approved, this will provide a standardized dispensary tax in the county.

Please join me in supporting Measure K, the Cannabis Business Tax.