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San Ramon Valley voters to decide on marijuana tax come November

Measure R would create new cannabis tax in Contra Costa County

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that San Ramon Valley residents get to vote on the East Bay Regional Park District's Measure FF, a ballot measure aimed at extending an existing parcel tax. The measure only applies to western parts of Contra Costa and Alameda counties, and does not include the San Ramon Valley. DanvilleSanRamon.com regrets the error.

San Ramon Valley voters have a plethora of decisions to make in the upcoming Nov. 6, election, one of which is a local ballot measure to determine if Contra Costa County should levy a new local marijuana tax on the cultivation and sale of the substance.

Contra Costa County voters will be asked if they want to install a cannabis tax, for the sale and growth of recently legalized marijuana, with regional Measure R.

Measure R requires a simple majority to go into effect.

Since voters passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act -- Proposition 19 -- in 2016, the state has seen a significant boost in its tax revenue as a result. Contra Costa county voters will get the opportunity to decide if they would like their county to implement its own taxes on the substance in November, with the introduction of local Measure R.

Placed on the ballot by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, Measure R proposes a cannabis tax in the county’s unincorporated area at annual rates of $7 per canopy square foot for cultivation and 4% tax of gross receipts for all other cannabis businesses including retailers.

A staff report county administrator David Twa, acknowledged that the total figure of tax revenue is difficult to estimate -- due to the cannabis industry previously being an illegal market -- but staff estimate the tax would raise between $1.7 to $4.4 million in revenue annually.

Potential revenue raised from Measure R would be added to the county’s general fund and go towards supporting regular expenses such as health services and environmental protection, according to county staff. If approved the tax will be levied indefinitely, only being removed if repealed by either the county voters or Board of Supervisors.

For some perspective, last week the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration revealed that from April 1, through June 30, state tax revenue from the cannabis industry totaled $74,240,257. That number is the state total and does not include the millions collected by local jurisdictions throughout California.

California’s excise tax on cannabis generated $43,490,668, the cultivation tax generated $4,482,119, and the sales tax generated $26,267,470 in revenue. This is an increase from the first quarter of 2018 which saw $60.9 million in tax revenue.

Medicinal cannabis is exempt from sales tax if the purchaser holds a valid medical marijuana identification card.

The East Bay Regional Park District does have Measure FF on the ballot to extend a parcel tax for an additional 20 years, but it only affects communities in the western sections of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Communities to be affected include the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Alameda, San Pablo, El Cerrito, Albany, Emeryville and Piedmont. It is not applicable to San Ramon Valley voters.

Comments

4 people like this
Posted by Guynextdoor
a resident of Danville
on Aug 22, 2018 at 9:57 am

I think the tax receipts should go into a fund to mitigate the adverse health and social consequences of marijuana.


5 people like this
Posted by Mannextdoor
a resident of Danville
on Sep 8, 2018 at 8:36 am

Guynextdoor: Maybe the tax receipts could go to a fund to help introduce you to reality and the concept of joining the 21st century.


4 people like this
Posted by dbrower
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 1, 2018 at 11:30 pm

$7 a square foot seems kind of steep. Do we tax other agricultural land at anywhere near the same rate?

I'm not opposed to taxing it, but seven cents a square foot to establish registration seems like a better starting point than seven dollars.


2 people like this
Posted by Expat voter
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Oct 3, 2018 at 11:34 am

As an overseas voter I would like some feedback from residents on what they endorse. My feeling is also that of dbrower, seems like a steep tax rate. The way tax money will be spent also seems vague. My tendency is no. Any input?


4 people like this
Posted by ANeighbor
a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2018 at 11:45 am

I'm curious why this will only pertain to unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County. Wouldn't this just encourage businesses to distribute & sell the cannabis within city limits? Furthermore, I appreciate the argument for obtaining taxes in order to improve safety, however, I don't see anything within the full text of Measure R that indicates that the taxes would be utilized in that manner. The argument in favor suggests the money will go towards testing marijuana products to ensure that they are safe and properly labeled, selling products in child-resistant packaging; and checking identification of customers to ensure marijuana is not sold to minors. However, there is no mention of this in Measure R. The money would just go to the general fund. I suggest a revised and improved measure be submitted for consideration.


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