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Cannabis Taxes Bring $12 Million To San Diego, La Mesa And Vista, Report Finds

A close-up of a marijuana leaf is seen in this undated photo.
Matthew Bowler
A close-up of a marijuana leaf is seen in this undated photo.

Legal taxation on cannabis yielded a combined total of more than $12 million to the cities of San Diego, La Mesa and Vista in 2019, according to an economic impact report on the county's cannabis industry released Thursday by Cal State San Marcos' College of Business Administration.

The report was developed by the CSUSM Office of Business Research and Analysis in partnership with cannabis-focused consulting firm Blue Water Government Affairs.

Blue Water worked with Office of Business Research and Analysis, an office uniting faculty expertise with student researchers to produce business analyses to collect data on the San Diego cannabis industry. The student team used public records from the three San Diego County cities that allow legal sales of recreational and medical cannabis to examine how it influences community finances, police enforcement and public health.


The report also explores recent studies conducted by the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws showing cannabis storefronts are not positively associated with increased criminal activity, as well as national research on the reduction of opioid overdose deaths in states with legalized medicinal cannabis.

"We are grateful to CSUSM for their groundbreaking report on the economic impact of cannabis in San Diego County," said Dallin Young, president of Blue Water Government Affairs. "This report demonstrates the positive impact commercial cannabis has had, generating millions of dollars in tax revenue while providing an essential service to county residents.

"Further, the report shows that the negative impacts foretold by cannabis opponents have not come to pass. And we now know there is significant untapped tax and employment benefits to be realized by jurisdictions throughout San Diego, which never have been more important than during our current economic crisis," Young said.

Additionally, the report includes research on the diversity of the cannabis industry in the county, revealing that 68% of cannabis business license holders are white and 87% are male.

On Wednesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 for a set of policies intended to improve economic access and social equity in the cannabis industry.


The vote, with Supervisor Jim Desmond opposed, came after a lengthy public hearing and discussion among board members.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher, who proposed multiple ordinance changes with colleague Nora Vargas, described the action as "a strong step forward."

The marijuana policy overhaul, in the form of multiple ordinances, will be developed over the next six months and include community input before any final approval by the board, according to Fletcher's office.

The policies were drafted with the intent to expand farming, manufacturing and retail opportunities and create jobs in the unincorporated areas of the county, as well as increasing social equity in the industry.

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