Sacramento supervisors approve plan that could lead to cannabis dispensaries in unincorporated parts of the county

FILE - This May 20, 2019, file photo, shows a marijuana leaf on a plant at a cannabis grow in Gardena, Calif. Voters in four states could embrace broad legal marijuana sales on Election Day, setting the stage for a watershed year for the industry that could snowball into neighboring states as well as reshape policy on Capitol Hill. The Nov. 3, 2020, contests will take place in markedly different regions of the country, New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana and approval of the proposals would highlight how public acceptance of cannabis is cutting across geography, demographics and the nation’s deep political divide. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

FILE – This May 20, 2019, file photo, shows a marijuana leaf on a plant at a cannabis grow in Gardena, Calif. Voters in four states could embrace broad legal marijuana sales on Election Day, setting the stage for a watershed year for the industry that could snowball into neighboring states as well as reshape policy on Capitol Hill. The Nov. 3, 2020, contests will take place in markedly different regions of the country, New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana and approval of the proposals would highlight how public acceptance of cannabis is cutting across geography, demographics and the nation’s deep political divide. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

Associated Press file

A plan that could allow marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated parts of Sacramento County was approved on Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, just two weeks after the county body rejected a similar proposal.

Voters throughout Sacramento County will now have a ballot question in November as to whether they are in favor of taxing cannabis businesses in the county’s unincorporated parts.

The taxes would be dedicated to helping the homeless, specifically the several thousand unhoused people that live along the American River.

If 66% of voters approve the measure, supervisors would then decide whether to approve cannabis businesses such as dispensaries, delivery services and cultivation facilities..

All county residents would be eligible to vote, including those in the city of Sacramento, where cannabis businesses are already legal, along with those residents of unincorporated areas of the county.

Voters statewide approved the sale of recreational marijuana in 2016, but individual communities had to pass their own ordinances allowing cannabis sales and other marijuana businesses. The city of Sacramento opted in, but the Board of Supervisors never allowed legal sales of marijuana or other businesses in unincorporated parts.

What changed in two weeks on the vote by the Board of Supervisors?

Back on July 12, three of the five supervisors approved the cannabis tax ballot question. However, a supermajority — four votes — was needed to place the issue on the ballot in November.

Tuesday’s vote was also 3-2. But a maneuver by Supervisor Phil Serna, dedicating the weed taxes exclusively to helping the homeless, meant only three votes were needed. Previously, the tax money was to go into the county general fund., requiring the four-vote supermajority, but dedicated tax money requires only a simple majority.

The county expects between $5.1 million and $7.7 million a year would be raised from the tax on marijuana businesses and go into the homeless fund, assuming they decide to allow dispensaries and other cannabis businesses.

The two dissenting supervisors were board Chairman Don Nottoli and Sue Frost.

Serna was joined by supervisors Rich Desmond and Patrick Kennedy in approving the measure.

This story was originally published July 26, 2022 8:27 PM.

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Randy Diamond is a business reporter for The Sacramento Bee.

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