[Excerpt from the Petition]
The current regulatory environment threatens the viability of California’s legacy cannabis operators. California’s world-renowned craft cannabis farmers are literally killing themselves, trying to find ways to survive on a chessboard that you mandated them to join but is rigged for all to fail.
The harms inflicted upon Black, Brown and Latinx communities by the War on Drugs remain unresolved. Equity operators that were promised protection are being assaulted, burglarized, and left without recourse or protection from law enforcement. These applicants and operators are forced to incur expenses and costs associated with a licensing regime that has no timelines and no respect.
The opportunity to create a robust legal market has been squandered as a result of excessive taxation. Excessive taxation, which compounds across the supply chain, makes our product 50% more expensive at retail than the illicit market. This has created an illicit market that is currently three times the size of the legal market.
The illicit market threatens the health and safety of medicinal patients and consumers. 75% of cannabis in California is consumed in the illicit market and is untested and unsafe. Illegal grows often use banned pesticides that poison our streams, rivers and lakes and illicit products put consumers at risk as they often include fentanyl, synthetic cannabinoids and other potentially deadly chemicals.
The State has failed to fulfill the intent and purpose of Proposition 64 — as mandated by California voters. Voters in California overwhelmingly voted for legalization, yet only 32% of the state has legal dispensaries and legal access. The other 68% of the state has effectively re-criminalized cannabis with bans caused by local control. A recent study featured in Politico, shows there are roughly two legal dispensaries per 100,000 people in California- one of the lowest ratios in the nation.
Unable to thrive in California’s broken system, many of us are now facing the imminent loss of our businesses and ability to provide for our families. We need urgent action from our elected leaders on these three issues:
- Elimination of the cultivation tax – The cultivation tax undermines the viability and sustainability of California’s cannabis industry, being the only agricultural product in the world that is taxed at the farm.
- Three-year holiday of the excise tax – With the recent announcement of a $31 billion budget surplus, the State can allow the legal industry to build a foundation, to stabilize and to overtake the illicit one. Once we are established, let’s share in the upside and setup a graduated and slowly scaled approach to taxes over the following years to effectively determine the right tax rate for the industry
- Expansion of retail access – 68% of the state still remains without regulations or consumer access. Create a mechanism that forces any city or county that had majority approval of Prop. 64 to be required to have a functioning program in place by July 1st of 2022, or it automatically defaults to a state program. Implement policies that expand legal access such as AB 1356 (Ting, 2019) and set a goal to achieve one store per 15,000 people.
The solution to these issues and the possibility of saving this industry lies in your hands.
We ask that you include these three items into the State Budget which will be initially released on January 10th.
With this courageous step, we commit every ounce of our energy to educate and convince ⅔rds of the Legislature to sign and vote this into law by July 1st, 2022.