Yesterday, Long Beach voters overwhelmingly approved taxing any marijuana dispensary operating in the city. Measure A, which won 74 percent of the vote, would impose a city business tax of 6 percent of gross receipts per dispensary as well as a $25 to $50 per square foot tax on marijuana grows.
Although dispensaries that qualify as non-profits would be taxed at a lower rate, some marijuana activists have opposed the tax for being too stiff, while others have pointed out that, unless city officials (who have a terrible track record on this issue) get around to legalizing medical marijuana, the tax is completely meaningless.
In fact, Measure A marks the second time the Long Beach electorate has backed the notion of taxing marijuana without any clear consequence. The first time, in 2010, 67 percent of city voters backed a proposed 15 percent tax on recreational marijuana businesses and a $25 per square foot tax on pot grows which failed to take effect when Proposition 19 failed at the polls that year.
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Meanwhile, voters failed to elect Matthew Pappas as city attorney, a move that would have sent an even stronger message that the city's stoner electorate is a force to be reckoned with. Pappas, an activist attorney for medical marijuana patients who has sued Long Beach, won just 17 percent of the vote. The fact he managed to win double digits is impressive, however, given the fact that his most prominent competitor, incumbent Charles Parkin, received massive support from the Long Beach Police Officers Association, as the Weekly previously reported. Parkin was appointed to the job last year by his predecessor, Robert Shannon, a big-time pot-hater, who retired.
Given that the Long Beach city council has both backed a highly controversial lottery system to regulate medical marijuana and passed a resolution banning the collectives--meanwhile allowing city police to routinely raid, arrest and brutalize anyone operating a storefront there--it's impossible to guess how this vote will effect patient rights in the city.