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Cannabis measure moves to ballot

Report back on the medical and health benefits of cannabis (meeting doc linked here) - item 62 from the BOS meeting on 7/12

A Therapeutic Alternative's CEO Kimberly Cargile and of UC Davis Medical Group’s Dr. Karen Mo gave the Board of Supervisors a presentation on the medical and health benefits of cannabis.

(Image below taken from presentation slide deck)

Powerpoint slides linked here.

Background doc linked here.


On May 10, 2022, consultant HdL Companies presented a cannabis tax fiscal analysis for the Board of Supervisor’s consideration of a potential cannabis business tax ordinance and November ballot measure.


On June 15, 2022, the Sheriff’s Office and the County’s Department of Health Services gave the Board of Supervisors, at their request, a presentation on the public health and safety aspects of cannabis. Supervisor Serna expressed interest in hearing about the positive medical and health benefits of cannabis. You can read more about that in this SJPC article.


So, July 12th’s presentation was the third installment of this series on cannabis to get the County ready to decide whether to put a measure on the November ballot that would allow for the County to tax commercial cannabis activities.



Supervisor Desmond commended the speakers (for their work with law enforcement, specifically CHP) and noted how that demonstrates the importance of the cannabis industry. He acknowledged the post Prop 64 (legalizing adult use of marijuana) reality where cannabis use, including deliveries, in the unincorporated County is a regular occurrence.





Supervisor Frost said she was “intensely interested” in the conversation, particularly the medical benefits of cannabis…though she looked to the experts to confirm her assumptions about the negative effects from recreational cannabis use. Dr. Mo and Kimberly clarified their point that cannabis is much lower on the spectrum of harm and impairment than the other things out there like alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids.

(Image below taken from presentation slide deck)


They reiterated various points like:

  • Cannabis is not physically addicting

  • You cannot die or overdose from cannabis

  • Many users of cannabis are self-medicating and using it for medical benefits, like mood enhancement, anxiety, depression.

(Image below taken from presentation slide deck)

(Image below taken from presentation slide deck)


You can watch the full Sue Frost exchange below.



*****

Moving on to the next item (63) - Adoption Of A Resolution Calling For An Election To Establish A Tax On Cannabis And Hemp Business Activities (example of ballot measure below)

There was a lot of back and forth between Board Supervisors, County Counsel, and Mr. McPherson (a consultant from Hdl Companies) to ensure there was clarity for each of the Supervisors and the public about the purpose and implications of this agenda item.

The action of the Board was to decide whether to add a ballot measure for Sacramento County voters (the entire electorate) to decide (yes or no), whether or not to allow the County Board of Supervisors to impose a tax on cannabis activities in the unincorporated Sacramento County. A ⅔ vote by the Board (meaning 4 of the 5 supervisors) would be required to pass the resolution. Passing the resolution would not change the legality of cannabis operations (cultivation or sale) in the County but rather it would give voters the opportunity to decide to allow County taxation and licensing of cannabis operations in the unincorporated County.

County staff and HdL Companies consultant David McPherson presented the proposed ordinance and analysis about the various options and benefits (they identified) of a potential tax measure, including:

  1. Revenue for a regulatory program to address “illicit activities” and oversee the industry in the unincorporated County (including collecting revenue on activities like deliveries already happening in the unincorporated County)

  2. Ability to cultivate, sell, and tax hemp products, also creating revenue for the County

  3. Data from voters’ ballots that the County can use to make policy and regulatory decisions

Check out Sue Frost having some trouble understanding the voting process of the ordinance in the clip below.


Aaaand you can find some of the written public comments below… most folx writing in were opposed, and expressed fears over cannabis creating more homelessness, crime, addiction...(perhaps because Supervisor Frost sent out a call out to her District constituents to do so?)

All the images below are screenshots of emails that were sent in, all those emails can be found in the linked docs.

First set linked here.

Second set linked here.

Third set linked here.

Fourth set linked here.



So, after all that?

Chair Nottoli expressed that he has gone back and forth debating the information presented by their competent County staff and the general public, and also reiterated a concern brought up earlier in the meeting by Supervisor Frost and shared by Supervisor Desmond – that, should the resolution pass, the entire County electorate would vote on an issue impacting operations occurring within just the unincorporated areas of the County. He stated that cannabis is “certainly available” in the County so, since it’s not an issue about access, it comes down to revenue. He said, “it’s not all about the dollars” and that, while not diminishing the potential revenue, revenue wasn’t as important now as it was in the past…..and that projected revenues were "just estimates on paper.” Then he added on his concerns about cultivation in rural areas… before revealing he was not persuaded to support moving the measure forward.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, the original resolution failed.


Supervisor Serna requested a recrafted resolution and measure, which was subsequently voted on at two special meetings (7/26 & 8/1) and passed.


A special tax will be voted on by the unincorporated area for the unincorporated area.

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