Cannabis plants
Cannabis plants. Photo via Pixabay

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

Supervisors will discuss the exact wording of the measure at an August meeting. If passed by voters, the tax would affect marijuana businesses in the county’s unincorporated areas.

Supervisors Joel Anderson, Nathan Fletcher, Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas voted yes on a second reading of the ordinance, which in turn places the marijuana tax proposal on the ballot. Supervisor Jim Desmond voted no.

Earlier this month, the board voted 3-1 – with Desmond also opposed – to take an early step toward placing a marijuana tax proposal 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.

The county allows five local marijuana operations to operate –  three in Ramona and one each in unincorporated areas bordering El Cajon and Escondido.

During a brief public comment period, most callers expressed opposition 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 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.

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.

– City News Service

Updated 6:30 p.m. June 28, 2022