US (CA): "Tax hikes continue to hit the cannabis industry hard"

Santa Cruz County is seeing a decline in its cannabis industry, with tax revenues falling far short of projections for the 2021-22 fiscal year. County officials say that current revenues of $1.68 million are lagging behind projections by more than $1 million, and by $1.6 million for the previous year.

The County currently has 12 licensed retail locations in its unincorporated area, along with 76 non-retail businesses. A total of six cannabis businesses have closed over the past fiscal year, a trend industry professionals say could continue.

Colin Disheroon, who owns Santa Cruz Naturals in Aptos and its sister location in Pajaro, says that the reason for the problem starts with a public wary to spend in an economy shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic. “People can’t afford to spend money on expensive cannabis,” he says.

This problem is compounded, he adds, by the taxes tacked on to legal weed by state and local officials that add roughly 40% to the total cost at the register. “When you have 15% excise tax, you still have the cultivation tax, the manufacturing tax, the local 7% sales taxes, it’s all too much,” he says. “All of those need to come down.”

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