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Grover Beach moves ahead on marijuana sales tax measure

A history of medical marijuana in San Luis Obispo County

Two decades after the Compassionate Use Act was approved by California voters, local governments are still struggling to balance regulation of medical marijuana. Here is an abbreviated history of the issue in SLO County.
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Two decades after the Compassionate Use Act was approved by California voters, local governments are still struggling to balance regulation of medical marijuana. Here is an abbreviated history of the issue in SLO County.

Grover Beach is moving forward with plans to tax medical marijuana sales in the city, though it must move fast: A deadline to put the measure on the Nov. 8 general election ballot is fast approaching.

If voters approved the measure, Grover Beach would be the first city in San Luis Obispo County to tax medical marijuana sales.

The Grover Beach City Council directed staff Tuesday night to return to its next meeting with a resolution to place a medical marijuana tax measure on the ballot. The deadline to submit a measure to the county for the Nov. 8 ballot is Aug. 12, meaning the council has a small window of time to pursue the measure this year, or it will have to wait until the next general election in 2018.

The move comes after the council has for months pondered whether to pursue the measure and profit from medical marijuana sales in the city.

“I really don’t want to miss the boat on this taxation potential,” Councilwoman Mariam Shah said during the meeting. “If we don’t get this on the ballot in 2016, we could potentially miss out on half a million dollars in taxes. So that part worries me.”

If we don’t get this on the ballot in 2016, we could potentially miss out on a half a million dollars in taxes.

Mariam Shah, Grover Beach councilwoman

While no cities in San Luis Obispo County tax medical marijuana sales, other municipalities in the state do. Santa Cruz, San Jose, Palm Springs, Oakland and Sacramento have passed medical marijuana tax measures, while Santa Barbara and King City voters are expected to consider similar measures in November.

City staff said the Grover Beach measure could also be worded to tax all “legal marijuana sales” if a recreational marijuana initiative succeeds on the state ballot in November.

Grover Beach now permits some limited at-home cultivation, as allowed by the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, though it prohibits commercial cultivation and dispensaries.

The council also told staff it would like to pursue regulating medical marijuana dispensaries, commercial cultivation, manufacturing of cannabis products, laboratory testing and mobile delivery through a land use ordinance, though they said they wanted to take more time to explore options and get community input before making a decision.

The process is expected to take about six months, according to a city staff report.

Grover Beach has received four applications to operate medical marijuana-related activities, according to a city staff report: A company doing business as The Monarch has applied to open a dispensary with indoor cultivation, laboratory testing, manufacturing and mobile deliveries; Beachside Health and Wellness Center as well as Elite Care have both asked to open dispensaries with mobile deliveries; and Point Bay Distributors has applied to open a medical marijuana manufacturing, distribution and laboratory testing facility.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

California was the first state to allow medical marijuana. Now, two decades later, voters are expected to be asked whether to legalize recreational use of the drug. The legalization measure most likely to qualify for the statewide November ballot

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