Kristen Farrah Naeem, Staff Writer|September 18, 2020
Kristen Farrah Naeem | Signal Tribune
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Long Beach City Council has decided to wait on raising the retail tax on cannabis until they get the results of an economic impact study.
The proposed tax increase would originally have raised the tax rate for both medical and recreational cannabis sales by 1%. However, during the Tuesday, Sept. 8 council meeting, the Budget Oversight Committee recommended a .5% tax increase instead.
Before voting on the agenda item, councilmember Al Austin, who is also Chair of the Budget Oversight Committee, agreed to accept a friendly amendment by councilmember Dee Andrews asking for an economic impact study to be conducted and reviewed before council members vote on raising the tax. Councilmember Mary Zendejas seconded Andrews’ motion.
The results of the study are to be presented to the city council by mid-2021.
“I want to go on record opposing the half percent tax increase on the cannabis industry,” Andrews said. “You know, I understand the intent but with the current economic crisis we are facing due to the COVID it seems difficult to implement a tax without doing an economic impact study.”
If it passes, the increased tax revenue from cannabis sales would be used to support City services that would otherwise have to be significantly cut, according to the proposed FY 21 budget. Despite recent calls from the public to defund the police, a portion of the cannabis tax revenue would go towards Quality of Life (QOL) Officers from the Long Beach Police Department, who work with the homeless