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Numerous California Cities Approve Cannabis Retail Measures

The majority of cannabis-related projects that were approved were in Los Angeles County and San Diego, which opened the door to 70 more cannabis retail licenses. Los Angeles County leads California as the most populated, followed closely by San Diego County Orange County Riverside County County and San Bernardino County.

Los Angeles County voters approved 25 retail licences using Measure C by 59.58%. This enacts taxes on unincorporated areas. This includes $10 per square foot for cultivators, 6% tax on gross retail receipts (as well as a gross receipts tax, including 2% tax for testing facilities, 3% tax on distribution, and 4% for “manufacturing and other marijuana business facilities.”) Additionally, Santa Monica voters approved Measure HMP with a 66.79% “yes” vote to implement taxes for non-medical cannabis retailers, medical retailers, and all other licensed cannabis businesses (the city currently only has two licensed retailers). Claremont and South El Monte passed cannabis-related legislation in Cudahy, Lynwood and Lynwood. There were many cities, including Manhattan Beach and El Segundo, that refused to accept cannabis.

San Diego County approved Measure A, with 57.28%, a cannabis tax. This is the first time that five marijuana businesses have been approved. Measure A with 57.28% includes a 6% retail tax, 2% testing, 3% cultivation and $10 per canopy square feet, an inflation adjustment, as well as a 2% tax for other businesses. Officials estimate these taxes will generate $5.5 million per year in general funds and lead to the granting of 20 cannabis licenses. George Sadler CEO, San Diego-based cannabis brand Gelato says that all news is positive. “Access has always been an issue,” said Sadler. “Any progress is a big plus.”

Currently, most of Orange County doesn’t allow for cannabis businesses with the exclusion of the city of Santa Ana. Measure O, which was passed by Huntington Beach voters with a vote of 54.69% to approve, will impose a 6% sales tax on retail marijuana retailers. The 1% for all other cannabis businesses is a 10% gross receipts (estimated at $300,000 to $600,000 per annum). The possibility of 10 retail cannabis licenses could be possible. With 62% support, Laguna Woods voters approved Measure T which would have a tax on cannabis that would be used to fund general city services.

Northern California voters rejected Measure B, a proposed cannabis tax. This initiative received approval from 53.49%, however it still needed to get a 2/3 vote or 66%+ votes in order for it to pass. Tax measures were approved in neighboring communities like Pacific Grove and Monterey. Healdsburg voters approved Measure M.

San Bernardino County residents approved Measure R in Montclair. Central Californians living in Kings County approved Measure C. Voters in McFarland (located in Kern County) also supported Measure C.

California’s local counties and cities have supported cannabis initiatives. However, recent changes to the state are also being implemented. 

California voters also chose Gavin Newsom to remain as governor for a second term. Earlier in October, Newsom signed a bill called the “Alternate Plea Act” that will help defendants who have been charged with drug-related offenses. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the “public nuisance plea will carry the same criminal penalty as the drug offense charged but without triggering the collateral consequences.”

“With this plea option, individuals will be able to resume their life after incarceration and not be blocked from securing housing and employment,” the organization explained.

Newsom also signed legislation in September to help employees who smoke cannabis outside of work hours. “For too many Californians, the promise of cannabis legalization remains out of reach,” Newsom said in a press release. “These measures build on the important strides our state has made toward this goal, but much work remains to build an equitable, safe and sustainable legal cannabis industry. I look forward to partnering with the Legislature and policymakers to fully realize cannabis legalization in communities across California.”