Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County considers taxing medical marijuana dispensaries

New tax proposed for medical marijuana shops in santa cruz

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. - Some medicinal marijuana shops on the Central Coast may have to start charging customers more to sell their products.  It's something voters in Santa Cruz County may get a say on, come November.  On Monday, NewsChannel 5 found out why county supervisors are set to discuss a new tax measure this week.

Shops in unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County like Granny Purps may face a new tax measure, proposed by county leaders.  The county said it's all to bring in more to help patrol commercial cultivation of pot.

It has the potential to bring in almost $1 million a year.  Supervisor John Leopold said the county is faced with tough circumstances in regulating the industry. 

"This is an area of law where there's not a lot of to go from in California, the state has not stepped up and provided effective statewide regulations.  So then local communities are then forced to come up with their own rules," Leopold said.

We spoke with two non medical marijuana businesses who didn't want to speak on camera about the issue, though one says they're all for taxing medicinal marijuana shops at any rate possible.  Leopold said on Tuesday the board will discuss the wording for the proposed tax measure on the November ballot.  The idea is to make it variable.  He said it could start anywhere from 5 to 7 percent but it could go up from there.

"Tax up to 10 percent.  But we would start at a lower rate, that gives us the ability to lower or raise it once we have voter approval," Leopold said.

Leopold said shops only in the unincorporated areas would have to pay up.  Leopold said the county has been working on regulations over the past four years and had to put everything on hold until the California Supreme Court ruled local municipalities could create their own rules last Spring.

"The goal is to raise about $900,000 something hundred dollars a year and that would help for planning department enforcement of our cultivation ordinances and would also provide some support for our auditor control to ensure that we're getting the tax monies that are due to us," Leopold said.

Leopold said the county is modeling its tax measure after a similar one currently being used in San Jose.

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