Where Did Cannabis Ballot Measures Win in California on Election Day 2020?
By Andrea Golan, Kelsey Middleton
Nov 18, 2020
On Election Day 2020, Californians voted on a remarkable number of cannabis-related ballot measures—39 to be exact. Of those, only six were rejected by voters. In this post, we’ll describe the successful measures, breaking them down into the following categories:
Ballot measures in municipalities where all commercial cannabis activity is currently prohibited.
These measures asked voters to decide solely the preliminary question of whether to approve a cannabis tax, the first step in establishing local control to regulate cannabis.
Ballot measures that expand existing opportunities by providing for additional licenses or license types.
Ballot measures that amend existing cannabis regulations.
The success of these ballot measures signals increased cannabis licensing opportunities across the state.
Vicente Sederberg’s California team will continue to monitor evolving regulations and provide updates on opportunities in the localities mentioned in this article. Contact our team to discuss!
Ballot Measures That Will Allow for Future Cannabis Operations Within City or County Limits
- Measure Q: Voters approved a tax on cannabis businesses of 15% of gross receipts and $20 per square foot for cultivation.
- Measure C: Voters approved a 10% tax on cannabis businesses.
- Measure H: This measure authorizes cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and up to 4 retail licenses.
- Measure N: Voters approved a maximum tax rate of 8% gross receipts tax for retailers, a cultivation tax of up to $7 per square foot, a maximum tax rate of 2% for testing laboratories, and a 6% gross receipts tax for other businesses.
- Measure CC: Voters approved a 5% tax on cannabis businesses.
- Measure V: Voters answered in the affirmative the advisory question of whether to permit medical and recreational retail licensees within the City. The measure does not allow the City to change local law.
- Measure R: Voters authorized a tax of 6% of gross receipts for retail, 4% for other cannabis business activities, and up to $10 per square foot for cultivation.
- Measure S: Voters approved a cannabis license tax up to 10% of gross receipts.
- Measure V: Voters approved a cannabis business tax of 6% of gross receipts for retail, 4% of gross receipts for other businesses, and $10 per square foot for cultivation.
- Measure I: Voters authorized a tax of 8% of gross receipts for retail cannabis businesses, 4% for other cannabis businesses, and $10 per square foot for cultivation.
- Measure O: Voters approved the authorization of cultivation, processing, and distribution within the unincorporated area of Ventura County. Cultivation is limited to 500 acres for indoor general cultivation and 100 acres for indoor nursery cultivation. Sales are allowed between distributors but not to the general public. The measure allows for a tax of 4% of gross receipts on general cannabis cultivation and 1% of gross receipts on nursery cultivation.
Ballot Measures Expanding Commercial Cannabis Activities
- Measure L: The passage of Measure L permits cannabis distribution facilities to operate within the city’s industrial zone and imposes a distribution tax of up to 10% on gross receipts.
- Measure D: Voters answered in the affirmative the nonbinding advisory question on whether new cannabis retailers should be allowed. Currently, the city of Benicia limits the number of retail cannabis businesses in the City to 1.
- Measure Q: This measure permits the City to establish a retail cannabis tax of 4% to 7%. Costa Mesa currently permits manufacturing, testing, and distribution, but prohibits dispensaries within city limits.
- Measure C: Voters approved the authorization of a tax on all cannabis and hemp businesses operating within the city. The measure authorizes tax rates of 6% gross receipts for retail, 4% for other cannabis businesses, and $10 per square foot for cultivation.
- Measure W: The passage of Measure W authorizes the city to adopt an ordinance that permits up to 4 cannabis delivery licenses and imposes a gross receipts tax of 6%. The City currently allows up to 4 distribution facilities and up to 4 testing laboratories.
- Measure J: Voters approved a tax on retail businesses of up to 8% and on other cannabis operations of up to 4% of gross receipts. The city currently allows only medical marijuana dispensaries.
- Measure N: Voters approved a tax on cannabis businesses of 6% of gross receipts for retail, 4% of gross receipts for other cannabis businesses, and $10 per square foot for cultivation.
- Measure M: Voters approved the establishment of a Cannabis Business Tax not to exceed 6% of gross revenues for retailers, manufacturers, and distributors; and not to exceed 3.5% of gross revenues for cultivators. Oceanside permitted adult-use cultivation in August 2020.
- Measure X: Voters approved a cannabis and hemp business tax at annual rates not to exceed 4% of gross receipts for all cannabis businesses, including, but not limited to, retail.
- Measure W: Voters approved a $12 per square foot for canopy cultivation in addition to its 6% tax for retail businesses, 4% for other businesses.
- Measure S: Voters authorized a cannabis business tax of 1.5 cents per $1 of gross receipts.
- Measure B: Voters approved the adoption of City Ordinance 453-2019 regulating the commercial growth of cannabis.
Ballot Measures Amending Existing Cannabis Regulations
- Measure G: Voters approved a new cultivation tax structure that will be based on square feet of canopy instead of the dry weight of cannabis.
- Measure P: Voters approved Measure P which allows the city to establish a gross receipts tax on cannabis products of up to 5% and up to 2% on the distribution of product from outside of the city.
- Measure Z: The approved measure restricts proximity to public parks and recreation centers, retains the existing 5% gross receipts tax on cannabis businesses, retains the existing cap of 3 adult-use retailers and 3 medical dispensaries, and continues the prohibition on recreational sales to persons under 21 years of age.
- Measure G: Voters approved a 3% tax on cannabis businesses and permits the city to increase the tax to up to 10%.
Measure PO: Voters supported the authorization of the Commercial Cannabis Permit Program which grants up to 8 permits for cannabis businesses, maintaining that such business must be at least 1,000 feet from schools, daycares, and youth facilities.
Measure PM: Voters narrowly approved Safe Access Cannabis and Industrial Cannabis zones to prohibit cannabis businesses from existing within 600 feet of schools, daycares, and youth centers.
- Measure R: Voters supported a local general tax on cannabis business at a rate not to exceed $25 per square foot (annually adjusted by CPI) or 10% of gross receipts.
- Measure U: Voters approved a business tax of 0.06% to 5% of gross receipts, with the highest rates assigned to cannabis businesses, firearm businesses, and businesses generating an estimated $9.5 million per year.
San Joaquin County
- Measure X: Voters approved a cannabis tax of between 3.5% and 8% of gross receipts for all businesses and a $2.00 per square foot of cultivation tax.
- Measure G: Voters approved an ordinance establishing a cultivation tax of $15.44 per pound for flower, $4.59 per pound for leaves, $2.16 per pound for fresh plants, and 2.5% of cannabis retailer gross sales. For cultivation, the first 100 pounds will be taxed at no more than 25% for the full rate, 100 to 500 pounds will be taxed at no more than 75% of the full rate, and more than 1,000 pounds will be taxed at the full rate.
Unsuccessful Ballot Measures
- Measure SB: Voters narrowly opposed this measure that would have approved 6 cannabis company development agreements with the city.
- Measure U: Voters opposed increasing the number of cannabis retailers from 7 to 9 and increasing the city cannabis tax.
- Measure L: Voters declined this controversial measure that would have placed more restrictions on the city’s industrial cannabis businesses, including a cap on licensure and the continuation of unannounced inspections at cannabis businesses.
- Measure S: 62% of voters rejected a proposed ordinance amending the city’s municipal code to repeal current prohibitions entirely and to allow commercial cannabis retailers in non-residential zones and cannabis deliveries and certain cultivation in all zones of the city.
- Measure Y: Voters declined this measure, a personal cannabis cultivation initiative, that would have amended the city’s municipal code to permit personal cannabis cultivation on all residential properties and establishment and operation of cannabis businesses within Sonoma, including commercial cultivation, manufacturing, retail, delivery, distribution, and special events.
- Measure T: Voters opposed this measure that would have authorized the Town Council to approve 1 cannabis retail businesses allowing retail sale, delivery, and/or on-site consumption of cannabis within city limits.