Los Angeles ballot push aims to lower marijuana taxes, bolster social equity

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A new campaign in Los Angeles filed a potential ballot measure with the hope of lowering marijuana business taxes and redirecting cannabis tax revenue to social equity MJ companies.

If successful, according to a campaign overview, the ballot question would:

  • Lower the city marijuana business tax rate from 10% of gross receipts to a three-tiered tax system based on revenue.
  • Establish a new marijuana business tax rate of 6% for companies with $3.5 million or more in revenue, 2% for those with $300,000-$3.5 million in revenue and a flat tax of $1,000 for those with less than $300,000 in revenue.
  • Create a special city fund to direct financial aid to cannabis social equity license applicants.
  • Direct marijuana tax revenue to be spent on a community reinvestment fund instead of being sent to the city’s general fund.
  • Dedicate a funding stream for combatting the illicit marijuana market with civil means such as shutting off power and forcing landlords to stop catering to unlicensed cannabis businesses.

But before the question can go before voters, the campaign – dubbed the “Los Angeles Equity Fund” – must collect a minimum of 65,000 voter signatures by April 27 in order to qualify for the November ballot, a campaign spokesperson told MJBizDaily.

And it’s far from certain that the campaign will be able to clear that threshold, primarily because of a lack of funding.

“My concern is qualification” for the ballot, said cannabis consultant Lynne Lyman, one of the campaign organizers.

“I know we can win at the ballot if we can qualify. I don’t know if we’ll win just because the timing is so tight, and we haven’t received the large dollars we need.”

Lyman said the coalition that drafted the ballot measure has already raised and spent more than $200,000 and now has only about $50,000 left to spend on signature-gathering.

Lyman estimated that a professional signature-collecting firm  would cost roughly $500,000, so, for now, the campaign is relying on volunteers and its network of cannabis businesses in L.A. to help out.

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The campaign has scheduled a fundraiser for Tuesday in downtown L.A., Lyman said.

“We see this not just as a fix for L.A. but a road map for everyone,” Lyman said of the ballot-measure campaign.

“And we’re doing it in the largest cannabis jurisdiction in the world and the most problematic jurisdiction in the state.”