A majority of the approved cannabis-related initiatives were in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, giving the green light to the possibility of 70 additional retail cannabis licenses. In California, Los Angeles is the most populous county, followed by San Diego County, Orange County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County.
Los Angeles County voters approved 25 Measure C retail licenses by 59.88%, which waived taxes in unincorporated areas of the county. This includes $10 per square foot for growers, 6% retail gross receipts tax (plus a gross receipts tax including 2% tax for testing facilities, 3% tax on distribution, and 4% for “production and other marijuana business facilities. .”) In addition, Santa Monica voters voted 66.79% “yes” to HMP to introduce taxes for non-medical cannabis retailers, medical retailers, and all other licensed cannabis businesses (the city currently has only two licensed retailers ). Cannabis-related policies in Claremont, Cudahy, Lynwood and South El Monte were also passed. However, there have been numerous cities that have chosen not to accept cannabis, such as Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and El Segundo, all of which have chosen to maintain bans on commercial cannabis businesses.
San Diego County, which has only approved five cannabis companies to date, saw Measure A approve a cannabis tax at 57.28%. This introduces a tax of 6% on retail businesses, 2% on testing, 3% on cultivation (or $10 per square foot of canopy, which is an adjustment for inflation), and 4% on all other businesses. County officials estimate these taxes could add up to $5.5 million annually to the general fund and result in 20 new cannabis business licenses. All news is good news, according to George Sadler, CEO of San Diego-based cannabis brand Gelato. “Access has always been an issue,” Sadler said. “Any progress is a big plus.”
Currently, most of Orange County does not allow cannabis businesses, with the exception of the city of Santa Ana. Last week, however, voters in Huntington Beach approved Measure O by a 54.69% yes vote to authorize an ordinance imposing a 6% gross receipts tax for retailers and a 1% gross receipts tax for other cannabis businesses ( estimated to bring in $300,000-$600,000 annually). This could result in up to 10 retail cannabis licenses. In Laguna Woods, voters also approved a cannabis tax to be used with Measure T for general city services with 62% of the vote.
In Northern California, a cannabis tax measure called Measure B was put before Sacramento County voters, but failed. Although 53.49% of voters supported this initiative, it required 2/3 of the vote (or 66%+) to pass. Neighboring cities such as Monterey and Pacific Grove approved fiscal measures. In Sonoma County, Healdsburg voters approved the M.
In San Bernardino County, voters passed Measure R on a tax initiative in Montclair. Central Californians in Kings County, Avenal also approved a Measure C tax initiative, as did voters in McFarland, located in Kern County.
While local cities and counties in California have implemented cannabis initiatives, the state has recently implemented other changes as well.
California state voters also voted to keep Gavin Newsom for another term as governor. In early October, Newsom signed a bill called the Alternate Plea Act, designed to help defendants charged with drug-related offenses. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, “public harassment pleading carries the same criminal penalty as the charged drug offense, but without triggering the side effects.”
“This plea option allows individuals to resume life after incarceration and will not be prevented from securing housing and employment,” the organization said.
In September, Newsom also signed legislation protecting employees who choose to use cannabis off the clock. “For too many Californians, the promise of cannabis legalization remains unattainable,” Newsom said in a press release. “These actions build on the important strides our state has made toward that goal, but much work remains to build an equitable, safe and sustainable legal cannabis industry. I look forward to working with the Legislature and policymakers to fully implement cannabis legalization in communities across California.”