SLO County Cannabis tax passes overwhelmingly!

So, what does it say when 77% of voters are OK with a potential 10% tax on retail cannabis?  It tells us exactly what the business owners have been saying all along, "Make us legit!  Regulate us and tax us, treat us like any other normal business."  and it would appear that consumers are feeling the same way.

This comes as welcomed news as some of the other cannabis regulation negotiations on the county level have not been met with such unanimity. I will admit that my eyebrows raised a little when I saw 77% voter approval. SLO County voters are not known for passing tax measures so readily.  "As long as the tax is fair and the money is spent responsibly, I don't have a problem with it.  We just want to get on with doing business.", is the feedback from one hopeful dispensary owner.  Entrepreneurs here in SLO County do like to give their fair share in taxs, so let's hope that the revenue generated for the county is used efficiently and with continued stakeholder input.

Key points to consider:

  • Tax rate will be flexible per license type
  • BOS will vote annually to maintain or increase the tax rate based upon revenue vs. expenses
  • Initial tax rate is competitive with other counties and municipalities
  • The key to generating revenue now is to get cannabis businesses through the local and state licensing process so they can operate legally within the regulated marketplace.

Little known fact, back in November of 2017 the SLO County Tax Controller, Jim Erb and staff reached out to cannabis industry stakeholders and actually asked them how they'd like to be taxed.  So, what you see in the measure is direct feedback from the local industry participants with a little bit of Supervisor fairy dust sprinkled on top. (4% instead of 3%).

Click here to view more details about the measure. 


New Cannabis Taxes Begin January 1, 2018

As we near the GO date of January 2nd, 2018 there are many facets of doing canna-biz that will all have to pull together in somekind of organized fashion.  One of those aspects is taxation.  Instead of writing a summary of the e-mail I received this morning from The Bureau, I'll share it with you in it's entirety.


October 3, 2017-

If you sell cannabis or cannabis products, you must register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) for a seller’s permit. Cannabis cultivators, processors, manufacturers, retailers, microbusinesses, and distributors making sales are required to obtain and maintain a seller’s permit as a prerequisite for applying for a license with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Department of Consumer Affairs, or the California Department of Public Health.

Distributors of cannabis and cannabis products must also register with the CDTFA for a cannabis tax permit to report and pay the two new cannabis taxes to the CDTFA. The cannabis tax permit is in addition to your seller’s permit.

Beginning January 1, 2018, two new cannabis taxes are in effect:
• A 15 percent excise tax is imposed upon purchasers of cannabis and cannabis products. Retailers are required to collect the excise tax from the purchaser and pay it to the cannabis distributor.
• A tax on the cultivation of cannabis that enters the commercial market is imposed upon cultivators. Cultivators are required to pay the cultivation tax to either a distributor or a manufacturer depending upon the nature of the transaction. The cultivation tax rates are:

o $9.25 per dry-weight ounce of cannabis flowers, and

o $2.75 per dry-weight ounce of cannabis leaves.

All cannabis businesses making sales are required to:
• Register online with the CDTFA for a seller’s permit.
• File sales and use tax returns electronically and pay any sales and use tax to the CDTFA. Even if none of your sales are subject to sales tax, you are still required to file a return and report your activities on your return to the CDTFA.

In addition, if you are a cannabis distributor, the following requirements apply to you:
• Prior to January 1, 2018, register online with the CDTFA for a cannabis tax permit. (Registration will be available in November 2017.)
• Beginning January 1, 2018, collect the excise tax from retailers you supply.
• Beginning January 1, 2018, collect the cultivation tax from cultivators or manufacturers that send or transfer cannabis and cannabis products to you.
• File both your cannabis tax and sales and use tax returns electronically and pay any tax amounts due to the CDTFA.

For additional information about the Bureau of Cannabis Control, or to subscribe to email alerts to hear about updates as they become available, please visit our website - For information on all three licensing authorities, please visit the state’s cannabis web portal – Follow the Bureau on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for daily news and updates.

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Happy trails, until next time!