I’d Tax That: Cities Profit off Weed

A few ballot measures in Ventura County to be voted on next week will determine whether cities including Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley will take advantage of marijuana’s legalization by taxing producers and sellers.

A key reason the drug was legalized to begin with was to regulate its distribution and generate revenue. Cities are well within their rights to pursue these measures, and voters would be wise to check yes on their ballots.

Cannabis taxes are not simply a money-maker for governments—these types of measures being passed around California help cover costs involved with permitting, enforcement and other aspects of regulating the drug.

According to a rebuttal filed by the Thousand Oaks City Council, the local Measure P would be expected to generate $130,000 to $150,000 per year for the city’s general funds, such as the police force. It would annually charge $10 per square foot of cultivation space, take 6 percent of gross revenue at retail cannabis businesses and 4 percent at other businesses selling cannabis.

Thousand Oaks City Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Pena, who was part of the unanimous decision to put Measure P on the ballot, said she doesn’t expect the tax to be a “tremendous windfall” for the city. She said there is currently only one medical dispensary underway that funds would be collected from. However, she said any money to the city’s coffers can be beneficial.

“There is a wide range of things for which this revenue stream could go for,” Bill-de la Pena said.

Opponents of taxation might argue that it raises barriers for those who use marijuana for medical reasons, or that rising costs will push people into the black market. However, these measures are being democratically voted on by citizens and are minimal. Taxation is a part of life—let’s talk about the taxes on feminine products that every woman relies upon.

Given that I am from outside Ventura County, I cannot vote on these ballot measures —however, this type of regulation is a sensible approach being taken across California and other states. The sob story of skyrocketing costs is a false narrative. People wanted legalization, and just like any business, the industry will be asked to pay up and play by the rules.

Dakota Allen
Editor in Chief