Cannabis Tax for San Joaquin Unincorporated Areas Will Appear on November Ballot

August 5, 2020 at 2:38 pm

A potential tax on cannabis businesses in unincorporated areas of San Joaquin County will be decided by voters on November 3rd. Income from the tax will go towards early childhood education, public health services, and homeless mitigation. The amount of revenue it is expected to generate is unsure, as no cannabis licenses have been approved for a business in an unincorporated area.


The measure would tax cannabis businesses in unincorporated areas of San Joaquin County at a rate of 3.5%.

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The tax would start at 3.5% of sales and an additional $2 per square foot for cultivation businesses. The San Joaquin Board of Supervisors would be able to raise the sales tax as high as 8%. The rate for cultivation could also be adjusted by the board, but could not exceed the Consumer Price Index for the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area. Revenues from the tax would be divided in half. 50% would go to the County Children’s Trust Fund for literacy, drug prevention, after-school, home visitation, and other youth programs for underserved communities. The other half would go towards public health services, homeless mitigation, and enforcing existing cannabis laws.

The exact same measure was also on the ballot two years ago, back then known as Measure B. It required ⅔ vote to pass (just as this year’s proposal will), and was not approved. Only 61.5% (58,757 votes) were for yes, with 38.5% (36,726 votes) for no. This year’s ballot initiative was requested by the San Joaquin Children’s Alliance.

The measure was approved by the County Board of Supervisors 3-2, with Supervisors Chuck Winn and Bob Elliott dissenting. Supervisor Elliott noted that sending half of the revenues to the Children’s Trust Fund would likely not adequately offset county expenses for cannabis businesses. The county estimated in 2017 that a cannabis tax would generate approximately $4.9 million a year, assuming a “mature market with 13 cultivation businesses and 7 non-cultivation businesses”. The actual tax will accrue far less, as there are currently no cannabis businesses in unincorporated San Joaquin County. County cannabis-related expenses total approximately $4.1 million to $4.6 million a year.