The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a proposal to place a commercial marijuana tax on the November vote.
Supervisors will discuss the exact wording of the vote at an August board meeting.
If approved by voters, the measure would affect marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas of the county.
Supervisors Joel Anderson, Nathan Fletcher, Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas voted yes on the second reading of the proposal to put the marijuana tax measure to the vote, with supervisor Jim Desmond voting no.
Earlier this month, the board voted 3-1, and Desmond also opposed it, to take an early step to put a fiscal measure on marijuana to the vote. The board passed a draft resolution calling for a 75-word voting question and arguments for and against the measure, along with a fiscal impact.
Five marijuana operations are allowed in San Diego County: three in Ramona and one in the unincorporated areas bordering El Cajon and Escondido.
During a brief period of public comment, most callers opposed the tax proposal, saying any benefit would be overshadowed by the damage from increased marijuana use.
Kowleen Lippitt, a Poway resident and public policy advocate, said a cannabis tax is presumptuous and not really in the public interest.
The marijuana industry “has been carrying out this program for the past 18 months,” Lippitt said, referring to the county’s cannabis capital policy.
Kelly Hayes, a lawyer representing marijuana companies, said supervisors should consider a lower tax rate for marijuana companies.
Hayes said only 26% of state-licensed operators are making a profit, and if the county wants to stop illegal business, it must give lawyers the tools they need to succeed.