El Dorado County, California says yes to marijuana

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County voters approve ballot measures to legalize marijuana activity, residents say yes to cannabis sales and cultivation

Voters in El Dorado County, California last week signed off on five different ballot measures that will introduce marijuana sales and cultivation to the county. All five were approved by substantial margins, indicating a shift in the traditionally conservative county. In fact, when the state voted on recreational marijuana in 2016, county residents overwhelmingly rejected the bill.

As part of the midterm elections last Tuesday, El Dorado voters were presented with measures N, P, Q, R and S. Measure N specifically targets taxes on the sale, testing and cultivation of cannabis, while the others aimed to address indoor and outdoor cultivation, as well as medicinal and recreational marijuana sales.

As a result of the approval, the measures will clear the way for up to 150 cultivation sites to be added to rural and agricultural areas of the county. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries will also be able to apply for recreational licenses, with three of the six already indicating that they would like to expand into the newly-approved market.

El Dorado becomes one of the first Sacramento-area counties to allow commercial cannabis activity. Sacramento County prevents marijuana activity in unincorporated parts of the county and Place County completely bans all forms of marijuana activity. Yolo County doesn’t allow dispensaries, but does allow medicinal cannabis growth in unincorporated areas.

Licenses will more than likely not begin to be issued until next May, at the earliest. However, the County Board of Supervisors has six months to define a cannabis program, according to the ballot measures.

According to Measure N, dispensaries could be taxed anywhere from 4-10%. Cultivators will have to pay $30 for each square foot of grow space or, alternatively, as much as 15% of total gross receipts. Some estimates indicate that the county’s take could be as much as $52.8 million each year.