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2020 Election: Cannabis in California

All 30 cannabis tax related local ballot measures in once place

The US election is only two days away and there's a lot at stake. At the national level there's a very real potential that the Senate and Presidency could flip Democratic in combination with a House majority already in place.

Though that would represent a clear movement towards cannabis legalization across the US, Former Vice President Biden is on record saying that the furthest he'd be willing so go is legalization of medical cannabis and decriminalization. But Senator Kamala Harris has signaled that she intends to continue the conversation with the Vice President should they take the White House. Regardless, either option would be an important step in righting the wrongs of the decades long war on drugs.

But don't be fooled, Republican support of legalization is also at an all time high. In fact five of six states voting on cannabis in this election are red states.

The attention of the United States, along with the rest of the world, will be on the big show. But there's a lot happening in local legislation that may not be grabbing the front-page headlines. While overall cannabis support nationwide is overwhelmingly positive, California is no stranger to controversy as local communities weigh the impact of liberalizing local cannabis policies. California has had trouble with the illicit market's influence on expansion of the legal market, and much of that has to do with high taxes and overly complicated regulations.

High city and county taxes can discourage cannabis businesses from operating within a community, especially if neighboring jurisdictions have more competitive rates. This played out in the Coachella Valley cities Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs and Palm Desert with the three cities jockeying to attract businesses.

Many municipal budgets have been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic while community services are more needed than ever. That means we could see more communities willing to support initiatives that bring in critical revenue. At Pact, we've always believed that taxation is one of the strongest incentives for the liberalization of cannabis policy and that will likely prove to be the case in this election.

It's not just cannabis taxes that are on the ballot, there's also 76 initiatives that affect local sales taxes. Sales taxes can combine to drive prices even higher. We've got that covered in the second part of this series tomorrow.

No fewer than 30 cities and counties are considering changes to their local cannabis laws — most related to local cannabis business taxes, with Artesia looking to set the highest retail tax of the bunch at 15% of gross receipts.

We've compiled a list of all the ballot initiatives across the Golden State to help you keep track of the action come November 3. We'll be posting results for each of the measures after the election.

(California is voting on local sales tax, too. We've got that covered in our series covering the 2020 election.)

City and County Initiatives

San Buenaventura, California, Measure I, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Ventura County, California, Measure O, Marijuana Permit Ordinance (November 2020)

Calaveras, Measure G, Marijuana Tax (November 2020)

Artesia, California, Measure Q, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Calabasas, California, Measure C, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Richmond, California, Measure U, Business Tax (November 2020)

Hawthorne, California, Measure CC, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Madera, California, Measure R, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

King City, California, Measure P, Marijuana Tax (November 2020)

Marina, California, Measure Z, Marijuana Business Regulation Ordinance (November 2020)

Yountville, California, Measure T, Marijuana Business Regulations (November 2020)

Grass Valley, California, Measure N, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Costa Mesa, California, Measure Q, Marijuana Tax (November 2020)

La Habra, California, Measure W, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Banning, California, Measure L, Marijuana Tax (November 2020)

Jurupa Valley, California, Measure U, Marijuana Business Regulation Changes and Tax Increase (November 2020)

Lemon Grove, California, Measure J, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Oceanside, California, Measure M, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Solana Beach, California, Measure S, Permit and Regulate Marijuana Businesses and Cultivation Initiative (November 2020)

San Joaquin County, Measure X, Early Childhood and Youth Services Marijuana Tax (November 2020)

Tracy, California, Measure W, Marijuana Tax (November 2020)

San Bruno, California, Measure S, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Fairfield, California, Measure C, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Vacaville, California, Measure V, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Sonoma, California, Measure X, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Waterford, California, Measure S, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Trinity County, California, Measure G, Marijuana Tax (November 2020)

Porterville, California, Measure R, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Ojai, California, Measure G, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Marysville, California, Measure N, Marijuana Business Tax (November 2020)

Bonus: General Cannabis Related Initiatives

Not all the cannabis regulations are about taxes, though most are. There's also a handful of zoning and other issues up for vote. Here's a quick list of what to watch.

Mount Shasta, California, Measure L, Marijuana Business Regulations (November 2020)

Laguna Woods, California, Measure V, Marijuana Dispensaries Advisory Question (November 2020)

Encinitas, California, Measure H, Marijuana Commercial Zoning and Regulation (November 2020)

Weed, California, Measure B, Marijuana Business Regulations (November 2020)

Benicia, California, Measure D, Marijuana Dispensaries Advisory Question (November 2020)

Sonoma, California, Measure Y, Marijuana Cultivation Initiative (November 2020)

Pomona, California, Measure PO, Marijuana Business Regulation Ordinance (November 2020)

Pomona, California, Measure PM, Marijuana Business Zoning Ordinance (November 2020)

Don't go this alone
Keeping up with the rapid changes in the cannabis tax landscape requires constant attention. Pact offers a variety of products with one aim: to let you focus on your business, not taxes. If your Point of Sale system has you configuring and managing your tax rates yourself using complicated tables and compound tax ordering rules, insist they level up and power their tax lookups by Pact.

Cannabis Tax Rate Lookup (It's free!)

For Retailers

Manage and file accurate and audit-ready state and local sales tax, cannabis business tax, and state excise tax reports automatically with AutoReturns, our easy to use web application.
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