CA: City Of Chula Vista Considering Legalizing Marijuana, Taxing Businesses

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The City of Chula Vista is considering putting a measure on the ballot to legalize recreational marijuana and tax cannabis businesses.

The city hired a private research firm to conduct a scientific survey to find out how voters feel about the issue.

When is the best time? June? November? What is the chance of the measure passing?

In the online or phone survey, voters are asked if the city should impose up to a 15-percent tax on gross receipts of cannabis businesses, and up to $10 per square foot for cannabis cultivation, industrial, manufacturing and testing facilities. The survey says the tax could raise an estimated $6 million every year.

According to the survey, the money would be used to enforce health and safety laws governing cannabis businesses, provide public education about substance abuse, provide youth intervention programs in local schools, and provide other general city services in Chula Vista.

“If they spend the money the way they say they will spend it, then yes, I will support the tax,” said Myrna Hall.

“If it becomes legal, then whatever associated costs of doing that will be paid for without impact or costs on this city…I think it’s a great idea to make it legal and it’s a great idea to tax it, within reason,” Hall’s husband Jim said.

But there were naysayers. One man who did not want to be identified said he was a heavy user of marijuana as a teenager.

“That’s why I’m totally against it, I saw my own deterioration. I think it’s going to happen to everyone else who uses it. I think our demise is coming,” he said.

Another voter, Fabian Perez, said that it doesn’t make sense.

Perez could not reconcile legalizing marijuana, while using money from it to pay for education about drug abuse.

Other voters said marijuana is being sold illegally anyway, so why not tax it.

“It’s already in our society and we have to manage it the best we can,” Vernon Kjonegaard said. “Taxing is one way to manage it….It’s the trend…It’s the writing on the wall.”

The Chula Vista City Council will discuss an ordinance to put the measure on the ballot Feb. 6. The survey is continuing, and it is not known when the results will be made public.