Following a decision made by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, county voters will decide on a marijuana business tax measure that will appear on the upcoming June ballot.
Though the county has yet to grant approval for any marijuana businesses, the board of supervisors voted to send a pot tax measure to the voters. If passed, the initiative would tax marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas of the county starting at a rate of 4 percent of gross receipts.
The tax rate would be slated to automatically increase 2 percent every fiscal year until reaching the maximum rate of 10 percent on July 1, 2020. However, the board of supervisors could vote to stop the increases and cap the rate at a certain level.
Additionally, the tax rate could be adjusted for different types of marijuana businesses. One type of business, marijuana testing facilities, would be exempt altogether from the county pot tax.
If voters approve the measure, the 4-10 percent tax would be levied on top of a fixed-rate $9.25 state tax on every ounce of marijuana flowers sold and $2.75 on every ounce of marijuana leaves, as well as a 15 percent state excise tax on other cannabis business activities.
Revenue raised from the local tax would go to SLO County’s general fund. County officials say the money is needed to cover planning, code enforcement and other costs related to marijuana businesses.
County Tax Collector Jim Erb has said that, according to a consultant, the marijuana tax could generate $1.4 million to $28 million a year.
Some critics of the tax measure have expressed concern it will cause marijuana consumers to purchase more pot from the black market. Simultaneously, over the first couple month of California’s marijuana business licensing program, the state has received hundreds of complaints, many of which have come from newly licensed pot businesses saying illicit cannabis operations are cutting into their market share.
California’s upcoming primary election, in which the SLO County ballot measure will appear, is scheduled for June 5.