Mystery Of Bay Area Pot Proposal

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Sausalito near San Francisco,CA Bay Area
Sausalito near San Francisco, CA. Photo: Shutterstock

Critics call mysterious Bay Area pot proposal “evil genius”

A cannabis tax proposal is rocking the quaint Bay Area town of Sausalito, with controversy swirling around a proposed 4% tax on all marijuana sales. The city council doesn’t seem to want the new tax, the residents say it’s a bad idea, and the local pot companies say it would destroy their livelihoods.

And in a surprising turn, an executive at a cannabis company from a bordering county appears to have been involved in organizing the tax proposal. The whole thing has observers questioning who exactly wants the tax measure passed and, even more bafflingly, why a pot company seems to be trying to increase cannabis taxes.

“Part of me feels like there’s some underlying tactic here that maybe we just don’t see,” said Nurit Raphael, the owner of the ONA.life, a cannabis delivery service that serves Sausalito and would be affected by the proposed tax. “There’s something bizarre happening, but no one can put their finger on it. It’s wild, totally wild.”

Sausalito has a ban on retail weed stores, despite 68% of residents wanting the city to allow storefront cannabis sales, according to a 2017 survey funded by the city. That means that residents can access legal cannabis in Sausalito only through delivery services.

The new ballot initiative, proposed in June, would put a 4% tax on cannabis products sold through those delivery services. Timothy McCloud, a former Sausalito City Council candidate, is listed as the organizer of the ballot measure in official city documents. But McCloud told SFGATE that he proposed the measure only after he was contacted by Erich Pearson, one of the owners of SPARC, a cannabis retail chain with five Bay Area locations — none of which is in Sausalito given the town’s ban.

Unfortunately, the town may never have complete answers about the mysterious tax proposal. After spending months collecting signatures to qualify the measure for next year’s election, Pearson told SFGATE last week that he has decided to “pause” organizing the measure. He did not respond to questions from SFGATE about why he was trying to pass a tax in Sausalito.