By Sue Frost
Two months ago I wrote a commentary in the Rio Linda Messenger to explain that the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors would be holding a vote in July on whether or not to place a local tax measure on the November ballot that would allow the County to open up Cannabis retail stores in the unincorporated parts of Sacramento County like Rio Linda & Elverta and receive an extra tax from those businesses. I asked the community to write to me to let me know their thoughts on this, and I promised to report back after the vote. On July 12th that vote took place, so I would like to use this opportunity to fill you in on what happened.
After I wrote that commentary, I was flooded with responses. Broadly speaking, the responses I received on social media were largely in favor of allowing a November vote, and the responses I received via phone calls, e-mails, and physical letters were largely opposed to it. My main takeaway was that the community was fairly evenly split on this issue, which tracks with the responses I have received over the years when I ask about this topic in my yearly community survey.
A few days before the meeting when the final language of the proposal was given to me, I was rather conflicted on what I would do as I could sympathize with both points of view. Those who wanted me to vote in support noted the medicinal benefits of cannabis and how the people should be allowed to vote on the issue – and those who wanted me to vote in opposition noted the public health and public safety concerns. But as I reviewed the proposal, two major things stuck out to me that swayed me to vote in opposition.
First, while the proposal would only allow this cannabis tax in the unincorporated portions of the county, it allowed every citizen, whether they lived in the unincorporated portions or not, to vote on this. That struck me as extremely unfair, especially given that only roughly one-third of the people in the county live in the unincorporated area. So a strong majority of the unincorporated residents may oppose this, but it could still pass. For good reason, we don’t allow residents of Nevada to vote for California Governor, and we don’t allow residents of Canada to vote for the President of the United States – and we shouldn’t allow residents of Sacramento City to vote for an issue that only impacts the unincorporated areas.
Second, the money that would be collected by this tax would have gone directly into the county general fund and could be spent on whatever the Supervisors deemed fit. There are no guarantees that the money would be spent to help solve problems that would sprout up as a result of opening these stores in our local communities – problems like the need for extra law enforcement, and the need for more education to the youth about cannabis. I believe that when taxes are imposed, it is the duty of the government to very clearly define where that money will go. Government has a transparency problem, and levying taxes without any explanation on how it will be spent only furthers that problem.
The vote to place it on the November ballot needed four votes in order to pass, but it only received three votes so it failed. Immediately afterwards, one supervisor proposed that at the end of July we should revisit this issue and try to fix some of these issues that were presented in the meeting. At that meeting I will once again come with an open mind, and do my best to represent the best interests of my constituents.
Thank you for reading – and as always, if you want to contact me, call me at 916-874-5491, or e-mail me at SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.
Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost represents the 4th District, which includes the communities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Orangevale, Antelope, North Highlands, Rio Linda, Elverta, and Rancho Murieta.
Support local journalism.
Now more than ever, the survival of local journalism depends on your support. Our community faces unprecedented economic disruption, and the future of many small businesses is under threat, including our own. It takes time and resources to provide this service. We are a small family-owned operation, and we will do everything in our power to keep it going. But today more than ever before, we will depend on your support to continue.
Click here to Support the Rio Linda Messenger today.
You rely on us to stay informed and we depend on you to make our work possible.