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.

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.

Jonathan Greenberg

The founder and Editor of the Sonoma County Independent, Greenberg is an investigative financial journalist with 40 years of experience with national publications. Greenberg also serves as founder and Executive Director of Informing to Empower, the parent non-profit of both the Sonoma Independent and the Maui Independent. Greenberg has won awards from the Greater Bay Journalism Awards for the past four years on behalf of the Sonoma Independent, starting with his coverage of the closing of County library cutbacks, and then the struggle to reopen Palm Drive Hospital. Jonathan Greenberg recently wrote three of the most widely-read exposes about Trump’s career ever published on the Washington Post. Jonathan was the notorious Forbes 400 reporter who taped two long Trump calls in 1984 in which he pretended to be the fictitious John Baron. His Post expose about this, with audio here, has been the subject of monologues on Colbert, the Daily Show and Seth Meyer’s A Closer Look. Jonathan has appeared live on a dozen top news shows, including Chris Cuomo’s CNN Good Day and most recently on CNN’s prime time Upfront with Erin Burnett to expose Trump’s latest lies. Jonathan was a Web 1.0 pioneer, founding Gist Communications in 1996, an Internet company that competed successfully with TV Guide Online. In 1997, Gist was one of just 14 websites in the world to be named a winner of the First Annual Webby Awards in San Francisco. Jonathan’s professional career began as a fact checker at Forbes Magazine, where he advanced to the role of the lead reporter in creating the first Forbes 400 listing of wealthy Americans, as recounted in this recent article for Forbes’ 100th anniversary issue and more extensively in this biography of Malcolm Forbes. Jonathan has been an investigative financial and political journalist for such national publications as The Washington Post, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Mother Jones, Forbes, Town & Country, Money, GQ, Manhattan,Inc., The New Republic, and Alternet. From 2011 through 2017, Jonathan was a blogger for the Huffington Post, where his narrative-transforming reporting and analysis about subjects like Bernie Sanders, Monsanto and Native Hawaiian water protectors achieved some of the widest readership of any HuffPost writer on these subjects. Jonathan’s nearly 40 years of professional media and reporting experience has been enhanced by a Yale Law School Masters Degree fellowship program, from which he graduated with honors in First Amendment Law from internationally renowned attorney Floyd Abrams and then Yale University President Benno Schmidt. Jonathan is the author of the critically acclaimed biography Staking A Claim: Jake Simmons and the Making of an African-American Oil Dynasty, which a Washington Post Book World front page review called, “a rare biography that challenges the readers senses in the same the way science fiction does.” In 1992, he edited Buying America Back: Economic Choices for the 1990′s, an anthology of 45 progressive solution-oriented essays called by Publisher’s Weekly, “An immensely important resource for policymakers, community activists, and everyone concerned with building a more humane future.”
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