Cannabis Tax – Riverside Voters Consider Whether to Impose Direct Tax on Cannabis Stores

Connor Forbes
Connor Forbes
3 Min Read
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Cannabis Tax

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Voters in Riverside will decide Tuesday whether to authorize the imposition of a new tax of up to 10% on cannabis retail outlets citywide, potentially raising $2 million annually, which critics doubt will come to fruition.

Measure B is going before voters as an amendment to Chapter 5.77 of the municipal code, specifically focused on business taxes. It would not impact private marijuana grows, or medicinal cultivation, permitted under state law.

The proposal, which dovetails with similar tax measures approved in other parts of Riverside County and requires a simple majority of votes for passage, has been touted by supporters as a “fair share” initiative, ensuring “cannabis businesses … are paying taxes to the community just like every other commercial business operating in Riverside.”

“It will provide funding to bolster our public safety professionals to crack down on the existing illegal cannabis black market and close down shops that operate without licenses, sell to minors and operate in violation of our laws,” according to election literature circulated to voters.

There are 14 marijuana outlets authorized in the city.

Proponents said that because Measure B’s revenue would go directly into the General Fund, it can be used to meet a wide variety of budgetary needs, paying for neighborhood and infrastructure improvements, youth recreational service programs and upgrades to libraries.

The tax has a mandatory 10% cap, and the City Council would have the final say on whether to impose the maximum rate, or something less.

The only public opposition listed was from local civic activist Rich Gardner, who doubted the reasons for the proposed impost, saying the revenue generated would more likely go to paying down costs arising from “The Cheech project’s mismanagement” and to pay for raises approved for council staff.

The downtown Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, which opened in June 2022, was built using mostly state funding. It was in the development stage for four years before moving forward. City officials said it would eventually be self-sustaining, but it was unclear whether that projection was on track.

“Our city attorney disputes the tax’s direct allocation to public safety, emphasizing the need for responsible financial decisions,” Gardner said. “Vote no to demand honest budgeting, rejecting self-serving raises and ensuring transparency, accountability and responsible leadership.”

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Cannabis Tax
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