County work follows pot vote

CONSULTANT WOULD BE FIRST STEP TO ALLOWING CANNABIS CULTIVATION

Now that voters have approved Measure C, the San Benito County Board of Supervisors will soon decide whether to allow commercial cannabis manufacturing or cultivation in the unincorporated county.

On July 24 the supervisors will hear a proposal from HDL Companies, a Diamond City, Calif. political consulting firm, to help guide the county toward writing an ordinance that would officially open the door for commercial cannabis manufacturing and cultivation in unincorporated San Benito County.

On June 5, about 58 percent of voters in unincorporated San Benito County approved Measure C, which passed a tax structure that would collect revenue from recreational cannabis manufacturing or cultivation.

“We just had a meeting with them,” San Benito County Supervisor Anthony Botelho said June 29, referring to HDL Companies. “After the board decides to contract with a consultant, they are going to survey the interest for cannabis in the county, and this way we can do a financial analysis over fees and taxes.”

The plan imposed by the passage of Measure C will tax cannabis businesses in the county based on square footage of the operation, or gross receipts. The rates will range from $3 to $17 per square foot for cannabis cultivators. Total sales for distributors will range from 0.5 to 4 percent, for manufacturers 2.5 to 4 percent, for retailers 0.5 to 8 percent, and 2.5 to 5 percent on microbusinesses, a special license that allows for every aspect of cannabis operation.

Based on prior cannabis operations in the county, San Benito County Sheriff Darren Thompson estimated that 25 to 30 acres of cannabis crops could bring in to bring in $3.3 million to $3.8 million annually, based on the lowest tax rate of $3 per square foot.

“The 25- to 30-acre estimate is a prediction of potential grow sites, based on the amount of interest shown by the industry to date,” Thompson said in May. “It’s not a scientific estimate, as there is no factual way to determine who or how many will ultimately choose to pursue that business in San Benito.”

Victor Gomez, former Hollister mayor and current president of Pinnacle Consulting, estimated that the tax rate per square foot would probably be $7, and the county could bring in between $5 million and $20 million a year.

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