In preview to 2016 statewide ballot, locals will vote on pot measures

Last November, states like Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana use and have struggled since to create appropriate regulations and taxation measures for these operations. Here in California, counties and cities face similar obstacles in their oversight of medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation.

This November, voters in 6 counties and 8 cities in California will go to the polls to determine the fate of medical marijuana in their communities through 18 different ballot measures. The topics of these measures rage from cultivation restrictions, the existence of dispensaries, the appropriate amount of taxation on dispensaries, as well as general advisory votes.

Butte (http://clerk-recorder.buttecounty.net/elections/archives/eln31/31_local_measures.html), Lake (http://www.lakeconews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=38603:local-citizens-committee-formed-to-oppose-measures-o-and-p&catid=1:latest&Itemid=197), Nevada, and Shasta counties will vote to either restrict or expand cannabis cultivation in their municipalities. Each of these counties currently has operating cultivation businesses and each measure aims to either expand the potential for growth of larger farms or restrict cultivation activities to smaller operations. Small farm operators are wary of larger marijuana cultivation while larger farmers encourage the potential for the industry’s growth as a means to improve local economies.

In Southern California, the cities of Blythe, Encinitas (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/sep/11/encinitas-council-takes-stand-against-measure-f/), and La Mesa will decide whether to permit marijuana dispensaries within their communities. Supporters argue that medical marijuana dispensaries provide an essential medicine to the ill. Alternatively, advocates for public safety are troubled by the potential illicit activity that some suggest comes along with dispensary businesses. This conversation is at its peak in Santa Ana where two measures will go head to head (http://www.voiceofoc.org/oc_central/santa_ana/article_19da4e80-0232-11e4-a5bf-0019bb2963f4.html); On the one hand, the city council-referred Measure BB restricts the operations of dispensaries, in contrast, the citizen-initiated Measure CC limits restrictions on these businesses.

Cities and counties that already have operating dispensaries are making an effort this November to garner city funds through dispensary taxation. Santa Cruz County and the City of Santa Cruz are each asking voters (http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/news/ci_26281643/despite-concerns-voters-weigh-cannabis-tax) to implement a 7 to 10 percent tax on dispensary operations. Across the state, cities have taken different approaches to taxing these businesses, for example Sacramento only imposes a 2 to 4 percent tax on dispensaries while San Jose has had a 7 to 10 percent tax since 2011. Cathedral City and Shasta Lake will both vote on tax rates for dispensaries. Additionally, Desert Hot Springs leaders support (http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/local/2014/06/25/desert-hot-springs-medical-marijuana/11344949/) Measures HH and II that aim bring dispensaries to their communities as a much needed source of revenue for city business.

Furthermore, voters in the City of Weed will vote on two advisory measures prohibiting outdoor cultivation and permitting dispensary licensing. While these votes will not result in immediate action, they are indicative of the concerns and interests of law makers and citizens throughout the state. 


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