This Tuesday, we'll discover the results of Oakland's mail-in ballot including Measure F - a 1.8% tax on the gross receipts of all cannabis related business within the city's limits. This is only the latest effort in which Oakland has led the way in California and the nation on evolving cannabis business and policy. But what's to make of this new effort? Will it really bring relief to Oakland's bottom line? Or is it more symbolic?
More on the flip.
First there was Oaksterdam - a nine block so-called "cannabis district" offering everything from legally bought medical cannabis to lessons on growing your own. In 2004, Oakland passed Measure Z making enforcement of cannabis violations the city's lowest priority. Measure Z led to one of Oaksterdam's more recent tenants, Club Z, to set up shop slinging cannabis without the requirement that the consumer possess a recommendation from their doc.
Given the current economic climate, and the fact that cannabis advocates support Measure F, all reasonably expect the measure to pass. Yet,
Oakland's measure is expected to generate only $294,000 annually - a meager sum for the city of Oakland's $414 million budget.
Thus, the early proceeds from Measure F would seem to be more symbolic than really helping Oakland tackle its budgetary challenges.
As legalization of cannabis looms, however, the projected annual $294,000 in revenues generated by Measure F would rapidly rise in a fledgling legal cannabis industry and the exponential growth of businesses servicing the industry. Other jurisdictions would surely follow Oakland's lead as they eye the funds Oakland garners from this new tax.
In the end, last week's Board of Equalization's announcement estimating $1.4 billion in projected revenues from legal cannabis, as well as huge prison savings highlighted today by paradox, will be augmented by local cannabis taxes throughout the state. Suddenly, the relatively modest funds generated by Measure F don't seem so paltry. Indeed, Oakland's latest trailblazing effort on cannabis proves the city is the birthplace for the next generation of progressive cannabis policy in the state and the nation.