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City of Palm Springs Medical Cannabis Collectives Operation Tax, Measure B (November 2013)

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A City of Palm Springs Medical Cannabis Collectives Operation Tax, Measure B ballot question was on the November 5, 2013, election ballot for voters in the city of Palm Springs in Riverside County, which is in California. It was approved.

The Measure B tax was set to be a 15% tax collected from each of the three licit medical marijuana dispensing collectives in the city as well as any operational illicit ones. The Council was given the authority to periodically decrease the tax rate by Measure B, but they were not given authority to increase it beyond the base 15% rate without voter approval.[1][2]

The tax revenue was designed to be used for police services including the regulation and enforcement of laws governing cannabis. But Measure B revenue will go into the general fund and could potentially be used for any purpose. The city attorney estimated the costs needed to administer the dispensaries and regulate illegal operations to be $500,000 over the past several years.[3]

Because revenue was not earmarked for a particular purpose, but was directed to go into the city's general fund, only a 55 percent supermajority vote was required for approval instead of a 2/3rds supermajority vote.

Election results

Measure B
Approveda Yes 5,585 66.28%
These final, certified results are from the Riverside County elections office.

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure B:

In order to help fund general municipal services, including but not limited to such matters as police protection and crime suppression services, fire prevention and suppression services, emergency medical services, park, recreation, and library facilities and services, and general improvements throughout the City, shall an ordinance to impose a tax at a rate of up to 15 cents per $1.00 of proceeds on cannabis or marijuana collectives operating in the City of Palm Springs be adopted?[2][4]

Impartial analysis

Below is an impartial analysis of Measure B prepared by city attorney Douglas C. Holland:

Measure “B” would enact an ordinance adding Chapter 3.35 to the Palm Springs Municipal Code entitled “Cannabis and Marijuana Tax.” This ordinance imposes a tax on collectives dispensing cannabis or marijuana in the City. Measure “B” defines “collectives” broadly to include any collective, cooperative, or business that engages in cultivating, dispensing, or processing of cannabis or marijuana.

Under Measure “B”, the maximum tax imposed on collectives dispensing marijuana would be a not to exceed maximum rate of 15 cents for each $1.00 of the proceeds of the collectives. The City Council will have the authority to establish and periodically adjust the rate so long as the rate does not exceed this maximum rate. Any increase above this maximum rate will require voter approval.

This tax will be imposed on each collective; it is not a sales tax and it is not imposed on the person or patient who is acquiring the cannabis or marijuana from the collective.

The proposed Cannabis and Marijuana Tax is a general tax and the revenues would be available to fund general municipal services, including police protection and crime suppression services, fire prevention and suppression services, and emergency medical services. Measure “B” will be adopted if it is approved by a majority of the voters voting on the measure.

A “Yes” vote is a vote to adopt the Cannabis and Marijuana Tax.

A “No” vote is a vote against adopting the Cannabis and Marijuana Tax.[2][4]



The official arguments in favor of Measure B were prepared by the following officials:

  • Steve Pougnet, Mayor
  • Chris Mills, Mayor Pro Tempore
  • Ginny Foat, Councilmember
  • Rick Hutcheson, Councilmember
  • Paul Lewin, Councilmember

Official arguments

The official arguments in the city's voter pamphlet are below:

Palm Springs is the only city in the Coachella Valley, and the immediate area, to allow medical cannabis collectives pursuant to the Compassionate Use Act. The City allowed only three collectives to ensure Palm Springs residents have an alternative form of treatment for debilitating medical conditions and end of life pain control. The City performed a rigorous process to approve three collectives; protecting the public peace, health, and safety of our neighborhoods and ensure residents would not be negatively impacted by collectives.

Palm Springs is financially impacted by the City’s successful regulations. Unpermitted collectives continue to try and operate in Palm Springs. Additionally, the State is experiencing an increase in mobile dispensaries, in an attempt to work around our reasonable local regulations that protect our City. Unpermitted collectives and mobile dispensaries are not operating within the law and may endanger those who use medical cannabis.

Unpermitted collectives have cost the City hundreds of thousands of dollars and diverted our scarce tax dollars -- through police and public safety, code enforcement, and legal proceedings in an attempt to close the unpermitted collective operators. Measure “B” enacts a small tax - - up to 15 cents per $1.00 on the operations of medical cannabis collectives. This is not a sales tax, nor a tax on medical cannabis patients, but a very minimal tax only on the collective operators including unpermitted collective operators. The City does not expect a windfall from this limited tax on collective operators, but a small amount will go a long way to help fund local law enforcement and critical City services and programs.

We ask your support by casting a YES vote on Measure “B” - - to help offset costs of collectives and other City services - - for our fellow qualified residents that need alternative treatment, and continue to ensure the quality and charm of our neighborhoods.[2][4]




Arguments against

Those who opposed the Measure B tax argued that it was too vague. Moreover, that it was deliberately vague because in California a tax with a deliberate purpose requires a 2/3rds supermajority vote to pass while one that has only a general purpose merely requires a 55 percent supermajority vote. Opponents said that the city council could probably have passed a tax for the specific purpose of funding police services and that with the vague language there was no guarantee for what the city council would use the Measure B revenue.[3]

Official arguments

No official arguments were filed for the city's voter's pamphlet.

Media endorsements

  • In an editorial on Measure B the editorial board had this to say: "The proposed tax on medical marijuana on the Nov. 5 ballot is vague and lacks a plan on how the money will be spent[...] The city should come back with a measure that specifies how much the tax will be and how the money will be spent. Give us your best estimate of how much it will cost to administer dispensaries, control illegal ones and maintain the quality, then set the tax appropriately. Meanwhile, we urge a no vote on Measure B."

See also

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