Ding dong, the witch is dead, the mean old Jeff Sessions is gone!!! Xmas came early. Do you think it’s the name, as Republican Pete Sessions of Texas, the chairman of the House Rules Committee, declared cannabis enemy, just lost to Democratic challenger Colin Allred. Allred was no friend to either of the Sessions! Election time in America, more of a frightening affair of how this country thinks and where those particular thoughts are domiciled.
All I can say is rural America sure thinks differently. Let me digress and say a kind farewell to Dana Rohrabacher, Rep. US Rep from Orange County, a very good friend to the cannabis industry. He lost his seat by a vote of 50.7% to his 49.3%. His cannabis voice will be missed. Thank you DR.
Moving on and starting local, as all politics is local. This CA election season kept the tax addicts in this State salivating like a dog waiting for its new bone. There was no shortage of measures up and down the state imposing more tax liability on operators. Last week we spent a bit of ink discussing SF’s Proposition D for Disgraceful, Deleterious affects on the industry as well as I am totally Disillusioned. It passed by 66% of the vote. Who are these 66% of SF voters? Do they not consume? Given that walking around The City always smells like being at a Dead show, again, who are these tax prone voters? As discussed, The City now has the power to levy a gross receipts tax on dispensaries of between 1 to 5%, depending on being a retail operator and how much gross revenue it takes in. Exempted is the first $500,000 of gross receipts from sales. The tax will generate $5 – $12 million beginning in 2021, when the measure kicks in. Let’s remember that The City will take that newly minted tax revenue and place it in the General Fund to pay salaries, City maintenance, etc. The Board of Supervisors, a body that has never seen a tax it did not embrace, honor or revel over, has given itself the power to increase or decrease the cannabis tax after it goes into effect. Any bets on which direction the Board goes?
In other CA tax cannabis news, Fresno passed Prop A for abhorrent use of taxation, by over 70% which could yield $10 million annually for police, roads and other community services. Measure A for appalling, would tax marijuana businesses up to $12 per canopy square foot and up to 10 percent of gross receipts for medical dispensaries and other cannabis businesses. Another City wherein the revenues will be lost to their “general fund”. Other cities seemed to be riding the cannabis tax train to victory. In Hanford, CA the voters approved by 71% a cannabis business tax and in Lindsey, the voters approved by 67% their own cannabis business tax. What the tax addicts refuse to consider is that continued and unchecked taxation will always disproportionately affects the impoverished or less affluent members of society. #justsaying. Further, these egregious forays into limitless taxation continues to encourage the thriving black market to exploit the price disparities.
On a more positive note, nationwide, cannabis took some major steps forward as many other states were feeling FOMO over those potential tax revenues ending up in other state’s coffers. That being said, in Illinois, Democrat J.B. Pritzker won the governor’s race after making marijuana legalization a centerpiece of his campaign. Newly minted Gov. Pritzker said he wants to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois almost immediately after being sworn in next year. “That’s something we can work on nearly right away,” JB has always been a good friend to the industry and a well reasoned voice Congrats. Speaking of the Midwest, Go Blue! The Wolverines voted to legalize adult use of cannabis, (Michigan for those that missed 2 clues), while Utah and Missouri approved medicinal use. What’s fascinating is that the electorate is pushing, nationwide, the Cannabis agenda. “One of the interesting political dynamics of cannabis legalization is that it’s happening in almost every state by ballot initiative,” says Ryan Stoa, author of the book Craft Weed: Family Farming and the Future of the Marijuana Industry. “Meaning, it’s not as if legislators are reading the tea leaves.” Big picture perspective: adult use is now legal in 10 states and medical marijuana is allowed in 33 states. The momentum is unassailable which would dictate, if times were normal, Federal action. Times are surely not normal. Nevertheless, each victory is another step in necessary criminal justice reform and the expungement of laws that are aggressively punitive and disproportionately directed against minorities. With 2 Sessions out of office, it will be interesting to see if the Fed makes moves to catch up with the will of the people.
Down South in conservative San Diego County, the voters had several cannabis measures on the ballot, most of which were tax oriented. By 73% approval, Measure V in La Mesa and Chula Vista approved cannabis sales taxes and legalized cannabis retail sales. Measure Q, In La Mesa, passed by 63% which will now add up to 6 percent tax on cannabis sales. Measure Q would impose at least a 5% tax, but no more than 15% (how magnanimous of them) tax on sales. Historically speaking, meaning March 2018, Chula Vista’s city council voted to allow recreational cannabis businesses in the city, contingent on the passage of Measure Q. It passed and the City which hopes to reap $6 million says it will expend tax revenues, in part, on closing the undocumented cannabis companies. Voters in Vista saw three cannabis-related propositions: Measure Z (passed by 51.32%) that would bring up to 11 medical marijuana storefronts to Vista. It is San Diego, so not everything is as straightforward as it seems. To muddy the water, the Vista City Council put Measure BB (Defeated by, 54.12%) and Proposition AA (passed by 51.52%). Measure BB would allow up to three medical marijuana delivery businesses in the city, with no storefronts. Measure BB failed. However, Measure AA passed which would impose additional taxes on cannabis between 3.5 percent for testing and up to 12 percent for retail stores.
Tailored Benefits is an employee benefits company that has had cannabis clients for over eleven years. Jeffrey Rosen, Tailored Benefit’s founder, practiced law for ten (10) years in San Francisco, Silicon Valley & Taipei, Taiwan. He has run an employee benefits company for over twenty years. Tailored Benefits’ has evolved over the past several decades to play an integral part in the cannabis industry and specifically Employee Benefits (https://tailoredbenefits.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eaa50ab249f1803b690b7ef7f&id=7d4b1bf55a&e=d7165461a0) . With the surge in demand for cannabis employees, Tailored Benefits’ specific cannabis employee benefit solutions is how you can set yourself apart, attract and retain valuable employees.
If you need more information on how to insure your cannabis business, Tailored Benefits is here to guide you and keep you informed on local and federal policies.
All the best,
Jeffrey Rosen, President