Pubdate: Thu, 30 Apr 2015
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Times-Herald
Author: John Glidden


The Vallejo City Council Tuesday night swiftly approved an ordinance 
supporting a January decision to stop collecting taxes from medical 
marijuana dispensaries operating in Vallejo.

In a 5-1 vote, with Councilmember Robert McConnell opposed and Mayor 
Osby Davis absent, the council adopted the resolution which prevents 
the city from collecting Measure C taxes until October 20, 2015 or 
until a regulatory scheme regarding MMDs in the city is approved.

In 2011, around 76 percent of city voters approved Measure C, which 
imposes a business license tax rate of 10 percent on the sale of 
medical marijuana products within the city.

The council in January voted to shut down all MMDs operating within 
the city - even if they were paying the Measure C tax - and to stop 
collecting the tax altogether.

In February, several MMDs representatives were turned away from City 
Hall as they attempted to pay $50,000 in Measure C taxes.

Currently, city staff is working on a regulatory framework that, if 
approved by the council, would allow a set number of MMDs within Vallejo.

These dispensaries would be granted limited immunity from criminal prosecution.

Prior to the vote, around 10 public members spoke against the new ordinance.

"As a taxpayer and for someone who voted for this (Measure C) and 
voted for many of you, what are you thinking? Are you just thick?," 
one of the speakers asked the council, causing laughing from the 
crowd. "Do you not get it?"

The speaker expressed dismay regarding the council's decision to stop 
collecting the tax, which he said is "inviting litigation" from the 
MMDs which routinely paid the tax before the city began to refuse collection.

He also said that the tax money could be used to repair various roads 
in the city.

"I strongly urge you, (that) if you want to keep my vote for the next 
election, collect my taxes, please!" he said with many clapping in 
the audience.

Morgan Hannigan, owner of the MMD Better Health Group, also spoke 
during the meeting, expressing exasperation with the city's decision 
to stop collecting the tax.

"I have a business license which looks like every other business 
license in the city of Vallejo," Hannigan said.

Hannigan said that he spoke with city staff, which confirmed that he 
if attempted to move his MMD, the license would not transfer.

"If it's just a tax, why is it tied to one building," he asked.

Hannigan also said that he doesn't want to sue the city or cause 
Vallejo to lose money.

"You're going to have to deal with it in court, at some point," he 
said. "I don't want to sue the city. I don't want to cost you guys a 
bunch of money."

The MMD owner warned that outside dispensaries are going to keep 
opening up in the city "without a business license."

"Are we going to let a bunch of carpetbaggers come in and take over 
our cannabis industry in Vallejo or are you going to work with the 
people that have been here, trying to help you?" he asked the council.

In support of the ordinance was local resident Stephen Hallett who 
said that the city has too many MMDs.

"In order to effectively regulate them, all the current ones must be 
shut down," Hallett said. "All of them are operating illegally. Every 
single one of them.

"Just because they are taking your tax money, does not mean they 
authorize you to be here," he added.

In late March, the council unanimously voted to have a proposed MMD 
regulatory ordinance return in early May after city staff made revisions.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom