Canna We Tax? Supervisors Consider Whether to Put a Marijuana Tax on the November Ballot

marijuana buds in a glass bowl

Marijuana buds on a Fire and Light bowl and plate. [Photo by Kym Kemp]

Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will be discussing the Commercial Marijuana Cultivation Tax Measure today. If all goes as planned, the initiative will be on the November ballot for everyone to vote on. However, some activists are adamantly opposed to the tax. They are encouraging people to come to the Board meeting and speak about their concerns.

According to information attached to the tax measure, the “ordinance sets a local sales tax rate structure of $ 1 per square foot of outdoor cultivation area, $2 per square foot of mixed-light cultivation area or $3 per square foot of indoor cultivation area to be levied in the unincorporated areas of Humboldt County until ended by voters, and includes an annual consumer price index (CPI) factor.”

“One of the main reasons for cannabis regulation in Humboldt was to encourage small farmers and discourage large farmers,” Dani Burkhart, a founder of Emerald Heritage Farms. “This tax doesn’t do that.”

Allison Edrington a founding board member of the Humboldt County Cannabis Chamber of Commerce agrees, “Taxation could discourage [this] young industry.”

Burkhart worries that the young, white-market marijuana industry could collapse and send ripples through the County if the tax is implemented. “This is economic policy that will affect every business in the community, cannabis or not,” Burkhart stated.

Burhart isn’t against taxing marijuana growers though. “It’s reasonable that the supervisors want their slice of the pie,” she said. “The revenue potential is there.” However, small cannabis farmers, she said, could retreat back into the black market if faced with too onerous of a tax too soon. The County, Burkhart urges, needs a stable industry.

The proposed tax, she said, will come on top of the cost of getting permits which often require property owners to clean up messes left from the timber industry. In addition, there will be a state tax and farmers must pay federal taxes.

“Who knows what is going to happen in November?” Edrington points out. Marijuana might be legalized for recreational use. This could further depress marijuana prices but if the Consumer Price Index rose. The tax would rise even though the product would be worth less.

“Most young industries don’t face regulatory hurdles that high, Burkhart contended. Most, she said, get subsidized and helped.

Burkhart suggests that a progressive tax based on production amounts rather than on farm size could bring money to the county without unfairly burdening the small growers. Farmers who produce large amounts of cannabis would therefore pay the most amount of tax. This, Burkhart said, would discourage large farms and encourage small sustainable farms.

The proposed tax, she said,  is bad in the short term for cannabis farmers. But more than that, she said, “It’s bad in the long term for Humboldt County. If there is not an industry to tax, this is bad for everyone.”

In other local cannabis regulation news:

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14 comments

  • Can we can we can we? Take your hard earned money?
    Lazy bunch of money hungry bastards!
    Next they are going to give themselves a raise,.. just watch!

  • Long overdue. Growers have gone decades avoiding tax. The only people voting no will be the greedy tax dodging growers.

    • Henchman Of Justice

      Ya, working man works so much he forgot that his wife spends all that money of his on sales taxes…….much like the pot grower’s wife, always buying stuff and paying sales taxes.

  • Stop calling dope growers farmers, they’re dope growers it’s an insult to real farmers.

  • I have a tractor, I plant in soil .I am a farmer whether you like it or not .I pay plenty of taxes also, just the same as you .Property taxes ,income taxes ,cannabis farmers pay sales tax that keep this county afloat.Do you hate alcohol producers .I may dodge a bit of taxes because the feds wont let us deduct our huge overhead.cannabis farmers are an easy target just like alcohol and cigarettes.
    Cannabis is the backbone of Humboldt whether you like it or not .
    This county is going to fold once the price drops.Mark my words

  • ya don’t insult big Ag or Monsanto they are real farmers.

  • veterans friend

    Don,t worry folks. It will all change next week. And the week after that. And again in the weeks following. That is how they roll in the “supervisor’s” chambers.

  • Real Framers Grow Cannabis!

    If you plant a seed n the ground you ar a farmer. Please stop w/ all this nonsense about people growing marijuana not being farmers. They are comments obviously made by someone who never farmed. Try growing some zucchini or squash then trying growing OG. Only skilled farmers can pull off a good OG outdoor crop. If u don’t know what I’m talking about you are not a REAL farmer. Lol

  • This whole thing about commercial cannabis growing is such a CASH GRAB. First the waterboard sends out letters saying that basically you need to give us money and sign up for our program or we will charge you even more money (1000 dollars per day to be exact) next going forward with the commercial thing, PERMITS, PERMITS, PERMITS, consulting, PERMITS, PERMITS, you think all the permits are free? NOPE. and then after I do all this I might get taxed 1 dollar or more per square foot annually ON TOP of the 40-50k i already spent for permits and other hoops? (expletive) you government. Maybe this wouldn’t be unreasonable if I was gonna be able to legally sell my product for 3-4k but NOPE. prices in the legal game are actually worse then the black market, plus if you go through a club they take your stuff on consignment. (meaning that you don’t get money until they sell it) I’ve been researching and thinking about this a lot and the black market is looking more like the way to go the deeper I dig.

    • Henchman Of Justice

      Black Market, yep.

      Also, incoming exodus of outsider growers because outsider growers would rather pay $1-3 per square foot than north of $25 that most all other jurisdictions are establishing.

      Humboldt is real good at revolving door economics where the costs initially are less than more urban areas AND generally too much for locals, so what happens is the revolving door effect.

      Out with the locals and in with imports. Then, imports can’t make a good profit, imports leave, and then new imports arrive, all the while locals in the know continue keepin on while locals who are naive struggle to stay afloat unless connected near the top of the pot pyramid regulatory scheme.

  • If something is grown in the earth,and you plant it your a farmer.fine line

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