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March 7, 2017 — Local Elections
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— Cannabis business tax to fund essential services —

County
March 7, 2017 —Local Elections

Sonoma County
Measure A - Majority Approval Required

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Shall an ordinance be adopted imposing a cannabis business tax in unincorporated Sonoma County on cultivation up to $38 per square foot (annually adjusted by CPI increases) or 10% on gross receipts, and on other cannabis businesses up to 10% on gross receipts, to fund essential county services such as addressing industry impacts, public safety, fire, health, housing, roads, and environmental protection, with funds staying local and subject to audits, generating undetermined revenue until repealed?

Impartial analysis / Proposal

The County of Sonoma has called a special election to seek voter approval to impose a business tax on commercial cannabis businesses operating within the County. State law requires voter approval before the County can impose a tax. Measure A was placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors.

In November 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64 legalizing the recreational use of cannabis by adults and establishing maximum cultivation allowances for personal use. Proposition 64 authorizes the sale of non-medical cannabis and further allows for local control of adult use cannabis land uses. The County is contemplating local land use regulations to control such uses.

If approved by voters, Measure A would impose a business tax on both medical and non-medical cannabis businesses in the unincorporated area of the County. Measure A would impose a tax on every person engaged in commercial cannabis cultivation in the unincorporated  County either: (i) at a maximum rate of $10.00 per square foot of outdoor cultivation areas, $38.00 per square foot of indoor cultivation area, and $22.00 per square foot of mixed-light cultivation area, or (ii) at amaximum rate of 10% of gross receipts per fiscal year.Measure A would also impose a tax on every person engaged in other commercial cannabis business, including distributors, distribution facilities, testing laboratories, transporters, manufacturers, nurseries, dispensaries, or engaging in deliveries at a maximum rate of 10% per fiscal year. The initial rates for the proposed tax are set forth in the measure.

Measure A generally defines “gross receipts” as the total revenue or compensation received by a cannabis business without any deduction for operating costs. “Commercial cannabis business” is defined to include cultivating, transporting, distributing, manufacturing,  compounding, converting, processing, preparing, storing, packaging, delivering, and selling cannabis and any ancillary products and accessories. “Dispensary” as a facility where cannabis, cannabis products, or devices for the use of cannabis are offered, for retail sale, including  a dispensary that functions through any technology platform. The amount of revenue that would be generated by the proposed tax is undetermined. T

The Board of Supervisors may, by ordinance, decrease or increase the tax rate up to the maximum authorized rates at any time thereafter. Measure A also imposes registration and reporting requirements on each person operating a cannabis business and provides for  exemptions for personal use and cultivation for personal use.

Measure A is a general tax under state law. If adopted, the revenues received from the tax will be placed in the County’s general fund and may be used in any manner authorized by law and as directed by the Board. The monies collected could be used to pay for general County operations and programs such as addressing industry impacts, code enforcement, public safety, fire, health, housing, roads, and environmental protection.

If a majority of voters who vote on Measure A vote “yes,” the proposed tax will be imposed on cannabis businesses at the rates set forth in the measure. A no vote on Measure A would result in no tax being imposed on cannabis businesses.

BRUCE D. GOLDSTEIN
County Counsel

By: s/ Robert Pittman
Assistant County Counsel

— Sonoma County Counsel

Arguments FOR

Vote Yes on Measure A, the Sonoma County cannabis business tax.

You, the taxpayer, have borne the cost of addressing the negative impacts of illegal cannabis operations for far too long! Taxpayers have had to fully fund the rising costs of public safety, criminal prosecution, public health and environmental protection, without help from  cannabis businesses. It’s time for Sonoma County to have a well-regulated industry that serves medical cannabis patients suffering from cancer and other debilitating conditions and provides the opportunity for legitimate businesses to serve these patients.

Measure A is simple: Cannabis businesses would pay for permission to operate in the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County (outside the cities), contributing their fair share to the funding of vital public services such as public safety, fire, health, housing, roads, and  environmental protection.

Measure A would provide funds to implement strict standards and location requirements for medical cannabis businesses adopted by the Board of Supervisors. Too many unregulated cannabis operations have damaged our forests, diverted our streams, and increased violent  crime. Our new regulations and revenue from this tax will protect our environment and finally help put an end to these illegal operators.

The children of Sonoma County are our most important asset. Implementing these regulations and funding enforcement will reduce the risk of accidental ingestion of cannabis products, increase health education and outreach, and decrease violent crime in our neighborhoods.

Since there is no guarantee that State tax revenue from cannabis sales will fund local services, it is necessary to secure our own funding. All revenue collected from Measure A will stay local to expand and maintain critical County services.

Help put a stop to detrimental illegal cannabis operations and ensure the local industry contributes positively to the quality of life in Sonoma County.

Please join us in voting Yes on Measure A.

SONOMA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

s/ Efren Carrillo, Chair 2016

s/ Shirlee Zane, Chair 2017

— Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor

Arguments AGAINST

NO ARGUMENT WAS SUBMITTED AGAINST MEASURE A

— Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor
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