STOCKTON — After attending a Board of Supervisors meeting that lasted most of the day, a Stockton attorney who works with local cannabis organizations praised officials for their attention to detail as San Joaquin County moves toward taxation and regulation of the burgeoning medical and recreational marijuana industry.
“The county has decided that a measured approach to commercial cannabis regulation and not prohibition represents the best path forward for our community,” the attorney, Zach Drivon, said late Tuesday afternoon.
The tax will go before voters on Nov. 6. If approved, it will be levied on cannabis businesses located in unincorporated San Joaquin County. In order to pass, the tax will require approval by two-thirds of those who vote in the election. County staff has estimated that the tax, which will start at 3.5 percent but could go as high as 8 percent, could raise nearly $3 million a year.
Initially, most of the revenue would pay for enforcement of the county’s cannabis rules. But by the fifth year, about half the new dollars would be dedicated to educational programs for children and youth.
“The approval of the special tax on prospective cannabis businesses also establishes the opportunity to allocate the revenues generated toward enforcement against illegal operations, and to create a legacy to improve the circumstances of underprivileged children in our community, with no burden on citizen taxpayers,” Drivon said.
Additionally Tuesday, supervisors approved rules that will limit indoor home cultivation to six plants per residence. The state regulation allows each resident of a home who is 21 or older to grow six plants, meaning that, in a household of four adults, 24 plants would be permitted.
Chairman Bob Elliott, who is one of the two cannabis conservatives on the board (Chuck Winn is the other), suggested the county require home growers to secure permits in order to raise six plants under their own roofs.
Elliott said a constitutional right exists to own firearms but you have to “get permits up the wazoo.” He asked why a permit is needed for firearms but not for growing six cannabis plants, given that marijuana is illegal in most of the United States.
Supervisor Kathy Miller called the analogy “interesting” and made the motion to approve the development of the ordinance pertaining to home grows. Supervisors Tom Patti and Miguel Villapudua joined Miller in voting in favor of the ordinance’s creation. Elliott voted no. Winn was absent after leaving at about 12:20 p.m. to catch a flight.
In response to a call by Patti, the full board assigned County Counsel Mark Myles the task of creating ordinances to regulate homeless encampments and to deal with the abandonment of shopping carts in unincorporated San Joaquin County.
“It is a situation of blight we really need to take some action on,” Elliott said.
Myles asked supervisors to create a list of elements to be contained in a possible ordinance, then bring it before the county’s task force on homelessness. Regarding encampments, Patti said the county should establish no-camping zones and limit the hours that encampments may remain open.
Miller said the county needs to be careful as it considers taking action on encampments. If no-camping zones and hours are established, she said, violators will need to be cited for misdemeanors, placing a financial and manpower burden on law enforcement and the courts system.
“It’s expensive just to get to the front door of arraignment,” District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said as she watched the meeting.
If camping hours were established, it would raise another question, Winn said.
“Where do these individuals go?” he asked. “Do we have a location for them?”
Patti said, “We need to take a holistic look at this. That’s why I wanted to bring this to the board.”
Contact reporter Roger Phillips at (209) 546-8299 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @rphillipsblog.