Hemet Ballot Measure Would Tax Cannabis, But Stops Short of Immediate Legalization

Hemet officials have responded to a citizens’ cannabis legalization initiative with a proposal of their own: impose a new tax framework for commercial cannabis without legalizing it right away.

The city's measure would, if approved by voters, require the city council to establish a regulatory program for cannabis businesses to operate within the city within one year and a specific tax requirement. The measure would not immediately legalize cannabis businesses but would require the city to take action permitting legalized cannabis businesses within 12 months and city-determined taxes.

While the measure outlines what would be in the city regulations, it sets taxes on cannabis businesses. It would require a 15 percent tax on gross receipts for dispensaries and other cannabis businesses; a 25-percent gross receipt tax on cannabis manufacturing businesses and $30 per square foot of cultivation space, which would be increased by the consumer price index annually.

City officials are referring to this as a ‘tax only’ cannabis measure. It deliberately conflicts with the citizens’ initiative, so that only one of the measures can ultimately be approved.

… The December 2020 date overlaps with the two-year period in the citizens' measure. In that time, the city council would be prohibited from amending the provisions of the municipal code affected by the citizens' measure.

The city found this route preferable to opposing the citizens’ initiative, which would have invited a costly legal challenge. This way, both measures have the ok to go before voters.

May the best one win.