OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland residents overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to approve a first-of-its kind tax on medical marijuana sold at the city's four cannabis dispensaries.
Preliminary election results showed the measure passing with 80
percent of the vote, according to the Alameda County Registrar of
The dispensary tax was one of four measures in a vote-by-mail
special election aimed at raising money for the cash-strapped city.
All four measures won, but Measure F had the highest level of
Scheduled to take effect on New Year's Day, the measure created
a special business tax rate for the pot clubs, which now pay the
same $1.20 for every $1,000 in gross sales applied to all retail
businesses. The new rate will be $18.
Oakland's auditor estimates that based on annual sales of $17.5
million for the four clubs, it will generate an estimated $294,000
for city coffers in its first year.
Pot club owners, who openly sell pot over the counter under the
1996 state ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana use in
California, proposed Measure F as a way to further legitimize their
"It's good business and good for the community," said Richard
Lee, who owns the Coffee Shop SR-71 dispensary and Oaksterdam
University, a trade school for budding dispensary workers.
The measure had no formal opposition; in November 2004, a ballot
initiative that required Oakland police to make arresting adults
using marijuana for personal use their lowest priority passed with
63 percent of the vote.
Support for Measure F was expected to be just as strong. As a
result and given the mail-in nature of the election, there was
little campaign activity, according to Lee.
"We put out signs, but outside of that it's been pretty
low-key," said Lee, who hosted a victory party at Oaksterdam
University's Student Union building in downtown Oakland.
Although California's 800 or so pot clubs also are expected to
pay state sales tax, Oakland is the first city in the country to
create a special tax on marijuana sales.
Advocates of legalizing pot for recreational use hope to use
Oakland's experience with Measure F to persuade California voters
next year to approve a measure that would legalize and regulate
marijuana like alcohol.
California City Approves Marijuana Tax
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