Monterey County elected officials on Tuesday, November 8, voted to deliver to cannabis growers and manufacturers another break in taxes as an industry glut continues to pressure prices. Through an at-times complex and convoluted discussion Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors wrestled with providing relief to the county cannabis industry. But it was the details of how much of a tax reduction, how long a payment plan should last, and whether to slap liens on errant taxpayers.
Ultimately the board, based on a concept introduced by South Monterey County Supervisor Chris Lopez, directed the Cannabis Program staff to come back later this month or in early December with a roadmap of how to tie a flexible tax rate to wholesale price fluctuations. If prices rise, so does the tax rate; if prices fall, the tax rate follows.
But Supervisors Luis Alejo and John Phillips said they would also be in favor of a reduction in Cannabis Program staffing to make up for county revenue lost because of a tax cut. Supervisor Wendy Root Askew said she was concerned about tax rates approved that are lower than what the voters decided in 2016 to permit commercial cannabis operations.
There were two segments of the local industry that were addressed with proposed tax cuts – cultivators and manufacturers. The number of manufacturers in the county is relatively small compared to cultivators, with less than 10% of the total revenue generated. For the manufacturing segment, supervisors reduced the tax from 3.5% to 1.5%.