Marijuana tax

Voters to Decide on Marijuana Business Tax for Dispensaries in Unincorporated San Diego County

If passed by voters, the measure would affect marijuana businesses in the county's unincorporated areas.

Marijuana cigarettes' sold in a dispensary.
NBC 7

A proposal to place a marijuana business tax on the November ballot was approved Tuesday by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors will discuss the exact ballot wording at an August board meeting.

If passed by voters, the measure would affect marijuana businesses in the county's unincorporated areas.

Supervisors Joel Anderson, Nathan Fletcher, Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas voted yes on the second reading of the proposal to place the marijuana tax measure on the ballot, with Supervisor Jim Desmond voting no.

Earlier this month, the board voted 3-1 -- with Desmond also opposed -- to take an early step toward placing a marijuana tax measure on the ballot. The board approved a draft resolution calling for a 75-word ballot question, and arguments for and against the measure, along with a fiscal impact.

Five marijuana operations are allowed to operate in San Diego County  - - three in Ramona and one each in unincorporated areas bordering El Cajon and Escondido.

During a brief public comment period, most callers were opposed to the tax proposal, saying any benefits would be overshadowed by the harm of increased marijuana use.

Kathleen Lippitt, a Poway resident and public policy advocate, said a cannabis tax is presumptuous and not really in the public interest.

The marijuana industry "has been running this show for the last 18 months," Lippitt said, referring to the county's cannabis equity policy.

Kelly Hayes, an attorney who represents marijuana businesses, said supervisors should consider a lower tax rate for marijuana businesses.

Hayes said that only 26% of licensed operators in the state are turning a profit, and if the county wants to stop illegal businesses, it needs to give legal ones the tools they need to be successful.

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