Voters Urged to Vote No on Measure S, the County Marijuana Tax, by Southern Humboldt Coummunity Alliance

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Money and marijuana feature

October 26, 2016

To The Board of Supervisors,

We, the members of Southern Humboldt Community Alliance, do NOT support Measure S.

By placing the Humboldt County Commercial Marijuana Cultivation Measure (Measure S) on the November 8th ballot, the Board of Supervisors are asking the voters to enable the county to do something extraordinary… to levy a property tax in the form of an excise tax on a specific agricultural crop… Cannabis. No other crop in California is singled out in this manner and subjected to its own special tax by a county. The well-known wine growing counties in the state do not tax growers on the square footage of vines planted. This tax potentially sets a reckless precedent of area-based taxation on crops produced for human consumption.

This proposed excise tax, as currently structured, represents yet another economic barrier for Humboldt County’s smallest, and often, most environmentally friendly cultivators. With that said, we respectfully request that the County move immediately to acknowledge and address this situation by developing a tax incentive program that awards the successful implementation of low impact sustainable practices and charitable giving to local community-based organizations.

The real possibility of crop failure needs to be addressed, as well.

While we fully agree that the County of Humboldt needs a robust revenue stream from the county’s dominant industry, we are deeply troubled by the measure the Board of Supervisors has asked us to approve. Remember, Cannabis Cultivation is an Agricultural Enterprise. As such, it’s subject to a number of possible variations in production (weather, disease, varietal planted, water limitations, uninvited pollination, etc.). The yield, therefore, varies based on multiple factors. Instead of having an arbitrary and fixed tax based on an area, Humboldt County needs a tax based on sales or production totals. The current proposal is a fixed-rate fee, based on the type of cultivation and square footage of the cultivated area. The tax is collected up front, regardless of crop success or yield. This is not sustainable.

The square footage cultivation tax disproportionately taxes those farmers who are NOT using high intensity discharge lighting to achieve three or more harvests a year. We believe this tax was created without consideration for factors such as the differences in legal market value between cannabis grown outdoors, versus in a mixed light setting, versus indoors. Due to these variations of growing techniques, the amount of harvests is different as well. Mixed light cultivators, who have two (2) harvests per year, will pay the greatest percentage of gross receipts toward this tax. The outdoor cultivators, who have one (1) harvest per year, will be paying the second greatest percentage of gross receipts. The lowest percentage of gross receipts to be paid will be by mixed light and indoor cultivators who achieve four (4) or more harvests annually.

Arguably, the square footage model of taxation stands to encourage cultivators to achieve more harvests annually, directly increasing the environmental impact of these cultivation sites. There are other difficulties, as well.

The measure lists priority issues to where the funds will be directed. However, due to it being a general measure, all tax revenues raised will go directly into the general fund. Therefore, these funds would be subject to the political process of allocation, with no guarantees that the rural areas of the county paying into this tax will actually receive funds for these much needed improvements to the community infrastructure.
The example of the county bed tax does not bode well. Southern Humboldt does not see a return from revenues generated from accommodation commensurate with proportion of those bed taxes raised in this area.

We understand that the Board of Supervisors cannot act to pass an ordinance amending this tax before the voters pass the ballot measure. However, in a show of good faith to constituents, the Supervisors can place this issue on the agenda for post-election discussion now. Without immediate action showing the Board of Supervisor’s commitment to addressing the inequalities associated with this tax initiative, we strongly urge Humboldt County voters to vote NO on Measure S, the Humboldt County Commercial Marijuana Cultivation tax measure on the ballot November 8th.

Respectfully,

SHC Alliance
Sunshine Johnston, Chair

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53 comments

  • So the county wants a cultivation tax and excise tax on top of the ones that the state is imposing if Prop64 goes through? The state taxes will be a $9.25 per ounce of flowers cultivation tax to the grower and a 15% excise tax to the consumer. THIS IS NOT COMMON IN ANY OTHER AGRICULTURE! Nor is it the norm for alcohol (grapes, wheat, rice, barley, hops…) or tobacco. Bye bye small farms, hello Marlboro Greens.

    • You do realize it’s also not common for a single vine of grapes to produce $1-3,000 dollars per plant either, don’t you? It would seem to me that an extraordinarily profitable plant ought to be taxed at an extraordinary rate given that it is primarily for recreational use.

      Tobacco, beer and wine are taxed at rates higher than other agricultural commodities, the difference being when the tax is collected because of the processing involved.

      • You do realize that marijuana will not be extraordinarily profitable when it is not a black market commodity. Although, with an extraordinary taxation rate, it will still be extraordinarily expensive. This will create a smaller black market and continue the violence. These excise taxes will send MJ the way of tobacco…. Smokable shredded paper sprayed with extracts poisons and harmful chemicals.

      • You do realize that a single vine can produce grapes for 100 years….

        • Lost Croat Outburst

          Yes, grapevines can live for centuries, they are a perma-crop. Cannabis is not. Yes, mother plants for cloning can be kept alive for years, but each crop must be planted anew. Unless they are pushed up or added to, the square footage for grapes is constant. With weed it can vary immensely. Then what? Every year more paperwork verifying your sq. footage? What if you don’t grow this year? S is poorly thought out. No.

      • Lost Croat Outburst

        You do realize that the amount of money produced at wholesale for grapes, weed, or any crop is the grower’s sole source of income for all expenses: taxes, fees, mortgage or lease payments, maintenance, salaries, household expenses, maybe savings for retirement and reversals of fortune. Everything.

        • Yes, for how many decades have pot growers NOT paid taxes, yet benefited from all the public infrastructure that’s supported by tax payers?

      • Henchman Of Justice

        No such thing as recreational use.

        If it goes into your body, it is a personal health use.

        Recreational is surfing, jet skis, operas, politics……..

        Pot ain’t politics, its a plant.

    • I’m thinking you need to readjust your math there So Hum. Or at the very least, go read the public info on the measure. I think your growdozer lifestyle can handle spending $10 out of $10,000. Everyone of you has a cell phone with google on it now. Find it so we don’t have to do your math homework for you.

    • Henchman Of Justice

      This Soho group can’t be trusted when they keep “taxation” as a tenet of some regulatory scope……in this case…tax incentives….

  • The only problem with the tax is it is the lowest in the state! It should be uped to keep it in line with the average in the rest of the state. If it were on par with similar taxes elsewhere, it would generate much more revenue for proper regulation / county coffers and keep the playing field level for cannabis based businesses across the state rather than humboldt county subsidizing them. This editorial looks like crocodile tears to me. People cry about the wine and liquor industry. I can assure you there is plenty of regulation associated with it as well. Anyone who has ever had to deal with ABC officers will surely agree. The difference between cannabis and grapes is that cannabis is a drug right off the plant where as wine/spirits have to be distilled/fermented. Once in that form, there are many taxes in many places.(depending on where you live)
    I can only hope the legalization of cannabis comes with the same firm regulation and oversight as came with the end of prohibition of alcohol.

    • Grapes and other fruits have naturally occuring yeast which will ferment without human interaction. Good luck pulling a nug straight off of the plant and getting high. Decarboxylation of cannabinoids from their acidic form, to a psychoactive form is required. Both are post harvest processes. Furthermore, every Californian can make 100 gallons of beer and 100 gallons of wine without license or permit. Drink a beer, smoke a joint, and maybe you will abandon your beloved “firm regulation and oversight”. Im guessing you were a hall monitor in elementary school.

      • Lost Croat Outburst

        For decades, i have pulled ripe nugs right off the plant, dried them in a hot car in the sun for a day, and voila! High quality herb. Lucky, I guess.

        What is wrong here is the a priori assumption that alcohol is equivalent to tobacco and, especially, alcohol. Cannabis is far less dangerous and deadly than the others. Yes, some regs must apply but the drugs are not equivalent.

        • Yes, the process of decarboxylation and drying is happening in your hot car. The statement “cannabis is a drug right off the plant” is still false. It requires a process. Yer not lucky, just uneducated.

          • Check out the big brain on Brad, or is it Brett?

          • Lost Croat Outburst

            The process of drying it out for a few hours for smoking or eating. Maybe an hour or two before you can roll one. BFD. I was probably growing weed before you were born or maybe just weaned and have probably forgotten more about growing pot than you know. Maybe you should grow a few plants before you post foolish things. Thanks for nothing.

    • Henchman Of Justice

      Well, a lower tax will bring more criminals to Humboldt……market share economics……

  • No on S. Two big problems here.
    “Arguably, the square footage model of taxation stands to encourage cultivators to achieve more harvests annually, directly increasing the environmental impact of these cultivation sites. There are other difficulties, as well.” Please explain how multiple harvests on the same square footage DIRECTLY increases environmental impact.

    “While we fully agree that the County of Humboldt needs a robust revenue stream from the county’s dominant industry..” Be clear. Are you in favor of excise taxes or not? The robust revenue stream already exists. Southern Humboldt is not the best place to grow pot. It is just the safest place to produce an illegal plant. The more taxes in Hum co., the less growers. Less growers, means less sales tax revenue, means a less robust revenue stream for the county.

    • If you pay the tax & then get spider mites and lose your crop do you get that sqft tax money back?

      • Lost Croat Outburst

        Yes, exactly. This is agriculture! You can experience crop failure at any time. The County sucks money out of us just during the registration and legitimization process and now this? Bullshit. Tax a business at the point of wholesale or retail sales, that is where you know what money is generated, before business expenses are figured in. We just can’t win with the plant, can we? No matter what, we are screwed. No on S.

    • Henchman Of Justice

      Exactly, this group from Soho proposes tax incentives…..anybody with tax in their head should have a policy be dead.

    • Producing more harvests per year past two or three is achieved only indoors. Producing more cannabis indoors negatively impacts the environment by using more electricity to run fans, dehums, co2 injectors, LIGHTS, and pumps more and more often.

      Also, producing indoor cannabis is often done hydroponically. More harvests means more synthetic fertilizer. Synthetic fertilizers are petroleum based so just the manufacture is detrimental to the environment, not to mention the negative impact of disposal of old, mineral salt laden reservoir water.

      I’m not saying I’m against the measure. I think $1-3/sqft is more than reasonable. That’s nothing compared to how much one can make off of the amount of flower produced in that area, unless it’s just terrible product.

  • This last record breaking storm points out why taxing a product before it is even planted is deeply flawed.

    • So wait until March. Politics don’t change the weather but weather changes politics apparently. You’re just making things up that make sense in your own head.

    • I hear opportunity knocking…marijuana crop insurance! On a slightly more serious note, I think the county is trying to get their cut before the inevitable diversions to the black market. Can’t say I blame them. I expect this is all going to be essentially voluntary, since they lack a serious enforcement mechanism.

    • Henchman Of Justice

      Or, growers who have flawed mindsets that tarping the topped plants for the other buds to continue won’t cause mold…..

  • Welcome to the real world, if the taxes seem unfair, then change the way you run your business so you profit the most and pay the least, real tough.Profit while you can , this industry is going to change in a blink of an eye

  • Yes on 64! No sympathy for growers.

  • Kym would you potentially be able to do a poll on whether or not measure S would pass? I think it was you that did the poll for prop 64. Although I do not support the measure myself I think it might be helpful for a lot of people to know whether or not they may have yet another expenditure if they decide become permitted.

  • NO on S – ‘canopy’ is a wrong way to start in taxing cannabis and definitely
    NO on Prop 64! Its a Bad Law written by shysters! So don’t be duped by the hype of money because its a big scam by money and poly ticks who want to suck our blood for their profits.

  • No on 64. No on S.
    I already voted

    • Henchman Of Justice

      If you are truth telling on voting, Thank You for being intellectually reasonable and fair minded…..

  • Lost Croat Outburst

    Yes on P 64, NO on S.

    • Henchman Of Justice

      No on 64,

      No such thing as recreational use.

      Anything that goes into your body is a health related use……

  • Most people who work with no children at least from what I have seen and experienced myself, pay roughly one third of their income in taxes. Growers haven’t had to. You have lived a way over privileged life style way too long. This can’t be argued. You all drive around in luxury cars while most working people can’t afford rent. You are getting off easy.

    • You’re anger is misdirected, justifiable but misdirected. Bank of America, the DEA, fucking Denny’s.. there’s plenty of people who deserve that anger who really are profiting directly off of your misery. And want you more miserable so they might make more…….

    • Henchman Of Justice

      Neo con alert, neo con alert……

      Progressive liberal alert, progressive liberal alert…..

      Lawmakers avoided taxation until now.

      The past does not apply for arguing lack of taxes when nothing in law requires growers to be regulated except for environmental abuse/impacts….

      Learn the facts and get the bs straightened out.

  • Not having it is mad he never tried 😂 Congrats you played yourself, another one
    “Thanks government and corporates lets just regulate everything and give the people a quasi-free life”

  • PLZ Vote “NO” folks… Love or hate MJ This tax per sq foot is ridiculous and whoever thought of it is an idiot. Like the letter says, there’s to many things that can possibly go wrong to have X sq feet = you pay X in taxes. Obviously humboldt county should get some profit from it’s most profitable industry, however it should be a POINT OF SALE TAX. That’s unarguably the most logical way to do it.

  • It’s been easy for everyone in so hum for years. At the end of the day, the grower who can maximize their growing canopy will do well financially. The consumer will benefit from the higher quality product. I am sick of tons of crappy herb driving the price down for farmers that actually give a shit and produce great ganj. Look at other states models and be happy with what you have in cali. The days of 3 to 4 hundred percent margins are over. The strong will survive and prosper.

  • New tax proposal. 50% Luxury tax imposed to the income of every liberal in Humboldt co. Tax revenue will go solely and directly into my bank account. You’ve got us all into this mess now it’s time for you to fix it.

  • 25 years and staying

    Yes on 64
    No on S
    Yes on a point of sale tax and taxes that stay in Humboldt County.
    We can do this and do it right.

    ✋Humboldt👍

  • I don’t think that it is fair to tax this crop until no one is having their harvest stolen by the police and are being sent to jail. When it can be grown and transported and sold with no threat of the police (mafia) stealing someone’s hard work and rifling through their home then considering a tax would be fair.

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