San Diego City Council To Decide On Marijuana Tax Ballot Proposal

San Diego, CALIF.- By a vote of 4-1, the San Diego City Council Rules Committee agreed to send Mark Kersey’s marijuana tax initiative to the City Attorney’s office for legal sharpening and then to the full City Council on July 11th. The Council will then decide whether to put councilman Kersey’s measure on the November ballot. District 6 city councilman Chris Cate was the lone dissenting vote.

Kersey said his ballot proposal is, “about protecting the city’s public safety and financial interests if the statewide measure passes in November. And from the polling I have seen, it’s likely the recreational pot measure is going to pass.”

A number of opponents spoke against the tax hike proposal, including Phil Rath, who represents the Medical Marijuana Consumer Cooperative. Rath said, “we have serious concerns that this tax measure will only strengthen the black market and hurt our medicinal marijuana providers.”

Rath asked Kersey to consider lowering the floor of the proposed tax from 8 percent to 1 percent on gross receipts and create a working group that consists of community, business and political leaders to tackle any issues that will no doubt arise. To his credit, Kersey said he would consider lowering the floor of the tax from 8 percent, but said 1 percent was to low to be an effective rate. Kersey didn’t respond to the working group request.

It’s important to note that any marijuana tax imposed by the City of San Diego would not impact Medicinal marijuana providers or users. The state has exempted Medicinal marijuana use from tax increases. Kersey’s measure would only impact recreational use.

The City of San Diego is a bit late to the California marijuana taxation movement. Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, Oakland, Long Beach, Sacramento and several other cities have already established similar ordinances.

Councilmember Kersey told IVN San Diego, “The ordinance should be put to the November 2016 ballot, concurrent with the state legalization initiative, to ensure that San Diego has a framework in place in the likely event that the state legalization measure is approved by voters.”

The measure would likely cost city taxpayers around $350,000 to put on the November ballot.