A proposed commercial cannabis tax initiative developed by the Trinity County Agriculture Alliance, a cannabis trade organization, has qualified for the Nov. 3 ballot.

 Petition signatures submitted by the group on July 27 were verified as sufficient on July 29 by the Trinity County Elections Office. The verification was accepted Tuesday, Aug. 4, by the Trinity County Board of Supervisors to submit the proposed ordinance, without alteration, to voters countywide on Nov. 3. The vote was 4-0 with Sup. Jeremy Brown recusing himself, citing a conflict of interest in that he holds state and county commercial cannabis cultivation licenses.

After completing the legal processes required to circulate a petition for signatures, TCAA President Adrien Keys filed 1,216 raw signatures (109 sections) with the county Elections Department on July 27. The number of signatures required to qualify a measure for the ballot (533) is based on how many total votes were cast for all candidates for governor in the preceding mid-term election.

Clerk/Recorder/Assessor and Elections official Shanna White said her office completed the examination of signatures on July 29 after determining that 43 sections produced 538 sufficient signatures.

A statement from TCAA said the organization is “proud to have completed a successful petition drive to place a fair, industry-informed county cannabis tax proposal on the Nov. 3 election ballot. The Trinity County Commercial Cannabis Tax was created by industry experts and participants, along with input from community leaders and subject matter specialists, and was inspired by the craft beer and wine industry.”

It noted that the support of 1,260 signers was garnered in only five days, calling it “a remarkable accomplishment made possible through the efforts of dozens of volunteers who braved 100+ degree weather, hundreds of miles traveled and the risks of COVID-19. The signature total represents approximately 16 percent of Trinity County’s registered voters, 10 percent of the county’s population and an average of 252 signatures per day.”

TCAA called support by the industry to tax itself “unprecedented and a testament to the willingness of these licensed businesses to contribute to their community. If passed, TCAA’s tax, a production-based, flat-rate, tiered cultivation tax on commercial cannabis, will serve as a model for other counties and states to follow. It was designed to support Trinity County’s small farms, encourage the high-quality production that drives demand for Trinity County cannabis, and provide long-term, sustainable tax revenue.”

A competing cannabis tax proposal submitted by another group of volunteers, the Coalition for Action on Local Finances (CALF), was submitted to the Elections Office on July 25, but failed to qualify for the ballot due to several technical errors cited by White regarding formatting of the signature petitions filed.

That means the TCAA initiative will be the only commercial cannabis tax measure on the Nov. 3 ballot in Trinity County. Another is not possible until the next mid-term election in 2022, or unless a special election is called for before then.

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