Six Reasons to Vote No on Measure A, the “Marijuana Hypocrisy Tax” COMMENTARY: Alcohol is far more harmful than cannabis. A 10% tax on grapes & wineries would yield far more money for the County. But that will never happen.

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Alcohol is far more harmful than cannabis. A 10% tax on grapes & wineries would yield far more money for the County. But that will never happen. Why, then, should we force the emerging cannabis industry into a huge tax and regulatory environment that would penalize local small growers, force many underground, and escalate the unwanted police, prison and probation war on marijuana?

Here are six compelling grassroots  reasons why voters–and their friends and families–should vote AGAINST  Sonoma County’s Measure A, the Marijuana Hypocrisy Tax,  before or on March 7:

  1. 1. Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and should be treated, regulated and taxed like wine. The unspoken truth is that cannabis will ALREADY  be taxed like alcohol, from the existing 9 to 9.5% sales tax (which fills the coffers of local, county and state government). In addition, legal cannabis businesses, like wineries, will pay real estate, corporate, income and payroll  taxes just like every other normal businesses.  There is no rationale for forcing those in this embryonic, fast growing, jobs creating industry to be singled out and taxed extra.
  2.  Hypocrisy busting time: Imagine a 10% tax on hundreds of millions of grape growers across the County. And a tax on the billion dollar wine industry. This would raise at least ten times the $6 million which Measure A aims to collect. Yet we know that our Supervisors would never even discuss placing such a measure on the ballot. One explanation for this double standard: hypocrisy. 
  3. Protect the civil liberties for ALL of us. The public supports legalization:  about 60% of Sonoma County voters cast their ballots for full legalization last November. We, the People, want Sheriff Dept. SWAT teams to bust down fewer doors and terrorize and imprison fewer of our neighbors, not more of them. 
  4. The public deserves a peace dividend in the war on marijuana, not more war! This tax is intended to increase “public safety”funding  of arcane new regulations This translates into more arrests of non violent purveyors of cannabis, the true victims of the victimless crime of marijuana than before.   Enough already! Growers want cannabis to be treated like grapes and agriculture, subject to civil fines and inspections, not militarized raids and outrageous asset forfeiture laws. The public deserves a peace dividend that we expect to follow the endless escalation of prison, probation and police costs for victimless marijauna related crimes, not more reasons for OUR government  to bust our fellow Americans.
  5. The way this got on the ballot, in a few days without any time for opposition statements , represents sleazy backroom County Supervisor politics at its worse.  When was the last time we saw a measure make it to the ballot without an opposition statement?  The Sonoma County Grower’s Alliance and its members overwhelmingly oppose Measure A but never had time to submit an opposition statement.  This suspicious process alone is sufficient reason to vote against this Marijuana Hypocrisy Tax. 
  6. Taxes like those imposed in Measure A defy the widely shared objective that Sonoma County citizens have to support  locally owned small businesses. Only large cannabis agribusiness corporations will be able to afford the high taxes, accountants and lawyers that it will take to comply with the Marijuana Hypocrisy Tax.  Small local farmers will be driven underground, where their “noncompliance” will lead them into the armored jaws of our criminal injustice system. This is the opposite of what We, the People, voted for last November, or want to see happen next.

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Jonathan Greenberg

Jonathan Greenberg is editor and owner of the award winning Sonoma Independent website, which serves the public interest with insight, solutions and advocacy. Jonathan is an investigative financial journalist with 40 years of experience with national publications, including Forbes, The Washington Post, The New York Times, New York, Town & Country. Mother Jones and The New Republic. During the past few years, Jonathan wrote four of the most widely-read exposes about Donald Trump’s career published in the Washington Post. Jonathan was the notorious Forbes 400 reporter who taped two long calls in 1984 in which Trump pretended to be John Barron. Jonathan’s Washington Post expose about this was the subject of monologues on Colbert, the Daily Show and Seth Meyers. Jonathan has appeared live on a dozen major news shows, including on CNN with Chris Cuomo, Erin Burnett and Don Lemon, on MSNBC with Ari Berber and Ali Velshi, and NPR's On the Media. A fuller bio and links to Jonathan's work can be found at JonathanGreenberg.com. Jonathan is a new media entrepreneur and was the founder of Gist.com, an acclaimed Web 1.0 company that won the first annual Webby Awards in 1997. In 2006, Jonathan founded Progressive Source Communications, the parent company of The Sonoma Independent. Progressive Source is a public interest communications company that creates multimedia websites, videos and digital advocacy campaigns that build public awareness of solutions that serve the common good.

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