Vallejo City Leaders Defy Constituents on Medical Cannabis Taxes


The Vallejo City Council formally rejected its own voter-approved medical cannabis taxes this week, in what has to be one of the most bizarre stories of California city-level pot regulation, or the lack thereof.

In a 5-1 vote Tuesday night, the council enacted Mayor Osby Davis’ resolution to reject taxes collected under Measure C. Measure C passed in 2011 in Vallejo with 76 percent of the vote, and has poured millions of dollars into the formerly bankrupt and still very troubled town.

Experts say Mayor Davis is on a 1930s-style moral crusade against pot. Davis has stated that Vallejo should become a “city of God” and equated the sin of marijuana use to murder and homosexuality. Davis moved to ban all medical cannabis dispensaries from Vallejo this year, then when the ban failed, he pushed to refuse their tax revenues and tried to shut down all of them pending city regulations.

The Vallejo City Council. - CITY OF VALLEJO
  • City of Vallejo
  • The Vallejo City Council.

California has had legal medical marijuana for nineteen years, but has deferred regulations to cities and counties. Vallejo has lacked the political will to either regulate or eradicate the dozens of popular collectives operating in storefronts in its blighted districts. But the city has been taxing them, and collecting about $700,000 per year. In February, City Hall first began refusing about $50,000 in tax payments turned in by dispensaries.

According to the Times Herald Online, one citizen Tuesday told the Council:

“As a taxpayer and for someone who voted for this (Measure C) and voted for many of you, what are you thinking? Are you just thick?,” one of the speakers asked the council, causing laughing from the crowd. “Do you not get it?” 
The Vallejo Council has also earmarked hundreds of thousands of dollars to try and stamp out its tax-paying dispensaries over the coming years.

Non-taxpaying medical cannabis delivery services, private collectives, and the black market will continue to flourish in Vallejo, experts say.