Think of Measure T as Mr. T’s donuts. Who doesn’t like Mr. T’s Donuts?
The same should be true of the tax measure Modesto voters are being asked to approve Tuesday. This is such an obvious yes vote, such a no-lose proposition that we didn’t think we’d have to editorialize on the subject.
But recently some who hate anything to do with marijuana have objected. Others, who hate anything to do with taxes have complained.
So, it appears Measure T needs a little more explanation.
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First, it’s simple ‑ only 71 words, giving the city of Modesto power to tax any business involved in cannabis growing, manufacturing or distribution up to 10 percent of their gross receipts.
If you don’t grow, process or buy marijuana, you’ll never pay this tax. If you do buy weed, then you’ll be paying for enhanced civic services and still should vote yes.
Measure T doesn’t mean the city will automatically tack 10 percent onto weed prices. It allows the city to tax “up to 10 percent.” It could be lower; it can’t be higher.
It’s not just another “big government” money grab. It’s your local government asking permission to help cover what they expect to be considerable costs.
If Measure T fails, the city will be forced to make some difficult decisions.
Modesto would first have to decide if it can even afford to allow marijuana sales within its limits. Allowing sales means hiring inspectors to check businesses and additional police officers to look for those imbibing when they shouldn’t or selling without a license. Extra officers and inspectors must be paid; without Measure T, there’s very little extra money to cover those extra costs.
With Measure T, Modesto would be better able to enforce a wide variety of rules – locations for grow sites and dispensaries; filtration and waste disposal systems; signage, etc.
If Measure T fails, marijuana won’t go away. People in Modesto have been growing it and using it for at least 60 years. In January, it will be legal statewide to grow up to six plants. Many will use it (legally), and a few will abuse it, ending up in trouble. We’ll be less capable of recovering the costs of that trouble (legal or medical) without an appropriate tax.
Even the dope growers like it.
“I think it should be passed,” said Bob Blink, a Modesto man who had to find a new career after the Procter & Gamble plant shut down. Eventually, he began growing cannabis in a nearly antiseptic warehouse – eight years ago. Since he began, there have been zero complaints against his operation.
Any problems arising from marijuana use, said Blink, “shouldn’t be a burden on non-users. It should be paid by those who are consumers of the product.”
Besides, said Blink, Measure T “will give law enforcement a clear line.”
Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll taped a commercial, airing on several radio stations and available at www.modbee.com, explaining why he supports Measure T.
Finally, without Measure T it will be tougher for Modesto to develop a cooperative and more common approach to cannabis taxes and regulations with Stanislaus County and its other cities. Without cooperation, expect cities to compete for pot shops by lowering fees and taxes. It would be a classic race to the bottom, which no one wins.
Not everyone agrees marijuana should be legal. But there is no downside to passing Measure T. It should be as popular as a good doughnut. Vote yes.