Sarah Jean Seman

Long Beach residents on the Golden Coast voted to allow the city to collect taxes on medical marijuana—that is, if the City Council ever allows dispensaries to sell the drug.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reported:

Measure A passed with 74 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results released Wednesday, which includes all of the city’s 268 precincts and mail-in ballots.

Taxes can only be collected if the council creates regulations to govern medical marijuana sales in Long Beach. If that takes place, the city would be able to impose a business license tax at an initial rate of 6 percent of for-profit dispensaries’ gross sales receipts for marijuana. The tax rate could be increased to a levy of up to 10 percent of gross marijuana sales.

The measure also provides for a tax, to be initially assessed at a rate of $15 per square foot, on business property improvements made to grow medical marijuana. The tax could be increased to a $50 per square foot assessment on business improvements.

For dispensaries that qualify as nonprofits, the taxes would instead be assessed at a rate of $10 per square foot of business improvements rather than as a percentage of sales.

The city has tried for years to regulate the sale of medical marijuana. After court decisions and legal wrangling, the city began a new process to come up with a broad framework for the ordinance. The issue is before the Planning Commission, which would send its recommendations to the council.

Long Beach created a lottery in 2009 and gave permits to 32 medical marijuana facilities. A group of dispensary owners ended up challenging the lottery and, as a result, the city banned all medical marijuana facilities.

The new tax would bring much needed revenue to the city, supporters claim, and would help dispel underground drug circles.

It is almost rather comforting that Long Beach residents are willing to pass a tax on medical marijuana, considering that only about 28 miles up the beach acquiring marijuana entails no more than a simple stroll up Venice boardwalk.


Sarah Jean Seman

Sarah Jean Seman is a Townhall Web Editor. Follow Sarah Jean Seman on Twitter @sarah_jean_

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography