The Mendocino Hotel in Mendocino, California.

Lee Coursey

Lawsuit Contends that Mendocino County Cannabis-Tax was Improperly Approved

Advocates in Mendocino County, California have filed a lawsuit against officials over the cannabis tax levied on the cannabis industry in a voter-approved initiative, the Press Democrat reports. The plaintiffs claim that the measure – which enacted a 2.5 percent to 10 percent tax on growers and flat $2,500 rate a year on other operators – was not properly approved, and should have been proposed as a special tax which would have required two-thirds vote to pass. The measure passed by 64 percent last November.

The proposal, Measure AI, was joined on the ballot by a non-binding advisory measure that showed voters wanted the cannabis tax money used for cannabis industry code enforcement, road repair, and police, fire and emergency medical services. Lawrence Rosin, the plaintiffs’ attorney, and himself a grower, argues that while the description includes county services it’s too specific as a general tax.

The case mirrors another in Ukiah, where a voter-approved cannabis sales tax measure is being challenged in court by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. In that case, the association contends that these so-called double measures are commonly used to circumvent voting requirements for special taxes.

Mendocino County Supervisor John McCowen indicated that past challenges against double measures have failed and that the industry didn’t pay taxes for decades.

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