On Tuesday, voters of Contra Costa County approved Measure R – which provides for the taxation of marijuana businesses similar to those businesses engaged in the sale of alcohol and tobacco.
Measure R passed with 71.73% support (158,898 votes) to 28.27% who opposed (62,623 votes).
Voters said the county should be able to impose a 4% tax on gross receipts plus $7 per square foot of garden canopy for cultivation. Supporters said the tax will generate an estimated $1.7 to $4.4 million annually, with the money going to general fund expenses such as public safety, health services, and environmental protection, and should be levied until repealed by the voters or Board of Supervisors.
The tax applies to all persons engaged in commercial cannabis activities in the unincorporated area of the County.
Supervisor Karen Mitchoff expressed approval with the measure’s passage.
“The Board of Supervisors is pleased to see Measure R pass by such a large majority, which was even greater than the vote to approve recreational marijuana in 2016,” Mitchoff said Wednesday. “It allows us to move forward to bring delivery, retail and cultivation of marijuana products in unincorporated Contra Costa County while at the same time assuring a revenue source to address the financial impacts of doing so.”
The argument in favor of Measure R was written by Board of Supervisors Mitchoff and John Gioia.
The following was their argument in favor:
Measure R asks voters to approve a tax that will apply only to businesses that grow, manufacture, distribute, or sell marijuana in the unincorporated area of the County. This tax will not affect businesses located in cities. The taxes these businesses would pay are projected to generate about $1.7 to $4.4 million in annual revenue for the County. This revenue will be used to regulate the cannabis industry, protect public resources, and help fund public safety, health and other vital public services.
If Measure R is approved, the County can immediately begin regulating the establishment and operation of commercial cannabis businesses in the unincorporated area in accordance with three previously approved County ordinances. These ordinances mandate local public protection measures over and above state law requirements, including local licensing procedures; licensee qualifications; security of marijuana establishments; hours of operation; testing, labeling, and packaging requirements; reasonable restrictions on advertising; water and energy conservation; and civil penalties for violation of these obligations.
By regulating marijuana like alcohol and tobacco, marijuana businesses will be required to:
Test marijuana products to ensure that they are safe and properly labeled;
Sell marijuana products in child-resistant packaging; and
Check identification of customers to ensure marijuana is not sold to minors.
Too many unregulated cannabis operations have damaged our precious open spaces, diverted our streams, and increased violent crime. Measure R would fund the implementation of strict standards and location requirements for commercial cannabis businesses. Enforcement of the new regulations will reduce the risk of accidental ingestion of cannabis products, increase health education and outreach, and decrease the violent crime associated with illicit cannabis operations.
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors respectfully requests a YES vote on Measure R.
KAREN MITCHOFF, CHAIR, SUPERVISOR, DISTRICT IV
JOHN GIOIA, VICE CHAIR, SUPERVISOR, DISTRICT I
The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association wrote the argument against “R,” stating the Measure might trigger the “law of unintended consequences” and could tip the industry to the black market and to “South-of-the-border cartels” who can provide pot more cheaply.They also suggested the County address its pension problem before addressing taxation of commercial marijuana growers.