All voters in San Diego County will be asked to weigh Measure A on November 1. 8 votes. It will tax cannabis businesses in unincorporated territories of a specific amount, estimated to generate between $2.9 million and $5.6 million annually. Here are two articles disputing either side of the measure the San Diego County Board of Supervisors placed on the ballot.
flood is the President and CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and lives in La Mesa. Warndland is a policy analyst for the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and lives in Oceanside.
Research and practical applications show that cannabis can be used to treat certain diseases. But when politicians use it to tax poor communities, it does absolutely nothing to address income inequality.
The majority of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors has put a marijuana tax on your November ballot. It only taxes cannabis businesses in unincorporated areas of San Diego County (including most remote areas of our region), but the funds collected go into the county’s district-wide general fund for use by other districts.
In short, Measure A taxes parts of our region, but moves that money elsewhere. The proposed weed tax would benefit more well-funded cities in the county’s consolidated areas, as opposed to cities in the non-consolidated areas, which have historically been less populated and poorer than the consolidated areas.
Proponents of the measure argue that taxing only remote areas would make it easier for poorer, underserved communities to start a marijuana business. In doing so, however, they are essentially saying that only taxing generally lower-income areas will promote social justice, not hurt it.
This logic blurs our brains, and we promise: there are no joints nearby.
You don’t take money from poor people to help relatively wealthy areas. If you want to reduce inequalities, wherever they are, you certainly won’t.
There’s no reason to force a potential dispensary in Ramona to pay for county functions in a city like Oceanside — which, like many other incorporated cities across the county, already levies its own tax on marijuana businesses.
The irony here is that when a merging city enacts a marijuana tax, it keeps the revenue locally and doesn’t share those dollars with communities outside the city limits. These cities rightfully keep this money for themselves.
So why ask poorer, remote communities for fundraising when the money isn’t guaranteed to stay with them?
The county needs to do the right thing and create a new program that benefits those who pay — a program that doesn’t provide funding to districts that may already have adequate financial resources.
While there are some complications in writing tax proposals only for unincorporated territories and ensuring that the income stays where it is generated, it’s actually not that difficult. Just because a limit is in place to raise the voter approval threshold to two-thirds doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, especially if it means more fairness.
Wouldn’t it be fairer for the county to use the taxes paid by cannabis businesses in unincorporated areas to tax programs in those areas? Or does the county tax all cannabis businesses equally across the region? There has to be a solution that doesn’t take money from some of the poorest communities among us.
While marijuana sounds like an attractive way to forget about bad ideas like this, the only way to successfully combat this unfair policy is to vote against Measure A.