City of Oakland Marijuana Tax, Measure F (July 2009)

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A City of Oakland Marijuana Tax, Measure F ballot question was on the July 21, 2009 ballot for voters in the City of Oakland in Alameda County, where it was overwhelmingly approved.[1]

Measure F authorized the city to impose a 1.8% tax the gross receipts of "cannabis businesses" located in the city. It was the first tax of its kind in a city in the United States. The new tax went into effect on January 1, 2010.[2]

The city estimated that it would raise $294,000 in additional tax revenue in 2010 as a result of Measure F.[3]

The election was conducted using only mail-in ballots. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters office mailed out 205,000 ballots to registered voters in Oakland the week of June 22.[4] Ballots had to be returned by July 21, 2009.[5]

The cost of holding the election on Measure F, and the three other measures Oakland residents were asked to consider on July 21, was $1.5 million.[4]

Election results

Measure F
Approveda Yes 40,439 80.0%
These final, certified, election results are from the Alameda County election office.

Impact and significance

In 2007 and 2008, there were four licensed "cannabis dispensaries" in the City of Oakland. The total gross receipts of the four dispensaries in 2007 was $17.9 million. In 2008, the total gross receipts were $19.6 million.

With Measure F passing, Oakland has become the first city in the country to assess a tax on marijuana.[6]

Supporters of legal marijuana believe that as states and municipalities experience budget problems, those who would otherwise oppose legal, taxable marijuana may have a change of heart. The overwhelming support for Measure F in Oakland may be a harbinger of what is to come. Laura Thomas, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance in San Francisco, said, “In hard budget times people are willing to be more creative."[7]


Sign advertising a marijuana dispensary

Supporters included:

  • Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan.[6]
  • California State Senator Loni Hancock.[8]
  • Assemblymember Sandré Swanson (D-Oakland)[8]
  • California Nurses Association.[8]
  • The Central Labor Council of Alameda County. According to Sharon Cornu, executive secretary-treasurer of the union, "City employees have taken really tough hits — layoffs and salary and benefit cuts. We're working really hard to make sure these measures pass."[4]

The four medical dispensary clubs in Oakland also were supportive of Measure F. According to James Anthony, an attorney for Harborside Health Center, "Criminals don't pay taxes. Law-abiding citizens do. We are nothing if not law-abiding citizens."[9][10]

Impact on marijuana legalization

See also: California Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2010)

Tammerlin Drummond, a columnist for Bay Area News Group, predicted that if Oakland's voters approved Measure F:

  • Other California cities with pot clubs "will rush to follow suit."
  • This would "give a huge boost to the legalization movement."

He wrote, "The fact is, if you're going to allow the cannabis dispensaries, you might as well legalize pot.[11]

Pay cut and staff reduction

In advance of the July 21 vote, Oakland mayor Ron Dellums agreed to:

  • A 10% pay cut on his $183,000 annual salary.
  • The elimination of discretionary accounts held by the city council and mayor known as "pay-go" accounts.
  • To cut his own staff by 20%.[12]

Other measures on July 21 ballot

Logo of the group that supported all four measures on the July 21 City of Oakland ballot

Approveda Measure C: City of Oakland Hotel Tax
Approveda Measure D: City of Oakland Kids First! Funding
Approveda Measure H: City of Oakland Transfer Tax Clarification

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

Measure F: "Shall City of Oakland's business tax, which currently imposes a tax rate of $1.20 per $1,000 on "cannabis business" gross receipts, be amended to establish a new tax rate of $18 per $1,000 of gross receipts?"[13]

See also

External links

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