Does a city without any marijuana-related businesses need a tax on marijuana-related businesses? In Cloverdale, city officials believe they do.
And we agree.
When it comes to marijuana, the legal landscape in California is shifting rapidly — and perhaps seismically. It took almost 20 years, and plenty of chaos, after voters approved the medicinal use of marijuana for the state to settle on a regulatory framework for production and sales. The details of that program aren’t yet complete, but pressure is growing to allow more dispensaries, more pot farms and more manufacturing and processing facilities in big cities, small towns and rural areas. And, if public opinion polls are correct, voters are poised to approve an initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
Cloverdale officials say they want to be prepared.
Measure P would authorize the City Council to impose a tax of up to 10 percent on the gross receipts of any marijuana-related business that sets up shop in Cloverdale.
While such businesses aren’t permitted at this time, an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries takes effect in January, and applications are expected soon after. And, as city officials point out, future changes to local marijuana rules may not originate with the City Council. They could just as easily come via ballot initiative or as a result of state legislation.
There are public expenses associated with hosting these types of businesses. Some might ask why the city doesn’t wait to address those costs until a marijuana-related business is approved. It’s a good question. And it has a simple answer. In California, all new local taxes must be approved by the voters. Enacting a tax mechanism now would allow Cloverdale to make decisions about marijuana-related businesses without unanswered questions about recouping any city costs. The Press Democrat recommends a yes vote on Measure P.