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Marijuana Tax Proposed For San Diego

June 20, 2016 1:30 p.m.

Marijuana Tax Proposed For San Diego


Mark Kersey, councilman, city of San Diego

Related Story: Marijuana Tax Proposed For San Diego


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

s a time to think about taxing marijuana? Voters in November will likely see an initiative to recreational eyes the use and City Councilman Mark Kersey thinks the city should propose a local marijuana tax on the same ballot. Several cities in California have imposed a tax on the sale of medical marijuana. Kirstie says and 8% to 15% local tax would bring San Diego in line. Joining me is council member, Mark Kersey. You've submitted this proposal to the rules community, what was the outcome?
We had a 4-1 vote in favor for discussion on July 11. This will be for placement on the November ballot. This will be a long side and contingent upon the state white initiative passing. I am opposed to the statewide measure, that would legalize recreational marijuana. My position is that if it does pass in the polls suggest it will. The city needs to be able to recover the cost, the increased cost there are going to be borne by the raid -- regulatory acts and enforcement aspects that we will likely see, as a result of legalization.
If the statewide measure doesn't pass, the local tax does pass, the tax would not be on medical marijuana dispensaries?
That is correct that
The statewide measure does pass, it specifically prohibits, the imposition of local taxes on medicinal marijuana. That is something, we will want to clarify in our language so everyone understands. The state measure would preclude that.
As you told us, you are against the legalization of recreational marijuana. Why you wouldn't fight against the proposal, rather than impose a tax on the measure, if it passes?
I concern is for the fiscal health of the city. As one of nine council members, that is my primary concern. I want to make sure, whatever the cost might be, code enforcement, public safety, legal issues that we've already seen with the illegal dispensaries, that there is an opportunity for the city to generate some funds off of the sale of this substance. Not force us to choose, a year from now between paving roads and dealing with these issues that may crop up as a result of legalization.
There's already a substantial tax on marijuana that's included, in the proposed state initiative. How much more with the city tax marijuana?
The measure that was put out today, between 8% and 15% at city Council discussion. The full Council could amend that on July 11, that is up for debate. We see it as, a situation where given that this is going to be a new industry, if it should pass. With unanticipated costs and consequences, we should give future Council the Falcons ability to that -- to set the rate appropriately. We don't want and they heard this today, we don't want to make the tax so I, that we force a lot of business into the black market, underground market and therefore, that doesn't serve anybody. We've heard from some advocates for the industry, there is a sweet spot, where we can taxes properly and achieve the goals of making the City Hall without driving the business into the black market.
This is a point, in which I am not clear. If the state proposal passes, will there still be a distinction between the sale of medical and recreational marijuana There will be. There will be , as part of the state code as well as our local code. The unclear part, is how many of the existing medicinal dispensaries choose to remitting -- remain medicinal. They could do both, these are so many discussions we will have to have in the future, when it comes to zoning and everything. There are a lot of things that we don't yet know, which is why it's important that any policy would pass today, to put to the voters in November, have some amount of flexibility, so we can adjust based on situations.
Have you spoken with local law enforcement, as to whether they have estimates as to how much more money it will take in preserving public safety if recreational marijuana is approved?
They don't have specific estimates. It's hard to judge, you've really only got Colorado as a model. They are much more than California, when it -- if the measure passes, it will take time. That's going to extend the need for flexibility. We won't know right away what those costs are. We need some amount of flexibility. If those costs are not as great as we fear, that lower rate can be what the discs -- Council decides to put in place. If they are higher, it can be adjusted. That's why we need that kind of flexibility.
As I understand, the proposed tax on marijuana that is going to be included in this proposal, is supposed to fund things like education. I'm wondering, if you are seeing a new local tax on marijuana to fund, rebuild San Diego infrastructure initiative.
No. That's not the intent. The intent is to make the City Hall, so that we are not diverting resources away from things like infrastructure repair and towards things like marijuana code enforcement. That's the objective here. One of the public speakers today said, he quoted someone from Colorado, taxation on marijuana should not be done to generate revenue to do things like paved roads or fund teacher salaries. You should really do it as a cost recovery system, so the you can associate it with the legalization effort. That's what we are trying to do. We don't know, how much is going to be generated, assuming that all this were to pass. It's too soon to say.
When does this go to counsel?
July 11, for placement on November.
I've been speaking with City Councilman, Mark Kersey. Thank you so much.