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Harshing the buzz: Valley cannabis growers press for local tax relief to keep weed industry alive

Many cannabis companies across the state are struggling with high taxes, most of which come from the state.

At a recent Woodlake City Council meeting, cannabis cultivator 7 Points presented council with information regarding cannabis taxes, the effect they have on the industry and proposed additional tax breaks at the local level.

“There are state taxes and there are local taxes and we pay both in addition to an excise tax,” 7Points CEO Wayne Bishop said. “The real fight is at the state level, but it takes a long time to make a change and this industry doesn’t have that much time.”

At the city council meeting on April 25, Bishop presented council with a presentation explaining where the need for help is. He also showed what other counties throughout the state have done to help their local business owners.

Along with other dispensaries in the area, Bishop asked the council to consider a three-year break on all cannabis taxes. Additionally, their desire is to redirect all cannabis taxes that are collected to put them back into the industry to make it more robust. After implementing these changes, the items would be brought back for reevaluation in three years. 

Bishop said they have had an extremely tough year, the worst he has seen in the industry. Bishop also said there are a lot of farmers that aren’t going to make it and there are already businesses collapsing. Bishop said his company is currently struggling with the cultivation tax, paying around $160,000 a year, without any help. “From my perspective at the cultivation level, we’ve had no tax break,” Bishop said. “If it isn’t for flower[the plant], nothing else gets made.”

Woodlake Community Service Director Jason Waters explained that at the end of every year, the city looks at their tax structure and reevaluates it where they see fit to make sure the rates are still competitive, “We always tell our businesses that anything within our power, that is feasible, the city is going to do to be fair on taxes,” Waters said. “We’re never going to be the most expensive places to operate, because we know we have to stay competitive.”

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.