L.A. County Ballot Measure Would Tax Marijuana to Pay for Homeless Services

Los Angeles County voters will be asked to up the price of marijuana in November to pay for shelter and health services for the county’s growing homeless population. The Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 Tuesday to put the issue before constituents, with supervisors Michael Antonovich and Mark Ridley-Thomas voting no.

If approved, a 10% tax would be levied on the gross receipts of all businesses that distribute marijuana and marijuana-related products. That goes for medical marijuana and, eventually, the recreational stuff too—should voters approveProposition 64 in November.

The initiative would need a two-thirds majority to pass and could raise up to $130 million a year in revenue. The Board’s decision followed months of discussion on possible solutions to the homelessness epidemic, as well as a vote by the city council to place a $1.2 billion bond initiative for homeless housing on the city ballot.

The most recent survey puts the county’s homeless population at 47,000. A so-called “millionaires tax” on high-income earners had also been considered as a means to alleviate the problem, but county officials would have had to secure a change in state law. A quarter-cent sales tax and property tax were also bandied about, but failed to garner an adequate level of support.

Read more about Tuesday’s vote here.