Cannabis Excise Tax Offers Renewed Funding for Rural Landowners

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO - Assemblyman Jim Wood’s (D-Healdsburg) proposed cannabis excise tax AB 2243 passed the Senate Governance and Finance Committee today. The bill moves next to the Senate Appropriations Committee before finally reaching the Senate Floor.

“Right before the vote on the Assembly Floor we made some great amendments that will help our rural communities, I feel really good about our chances moving forward," said Wood.

The new amendments would generate $44 million annually to help private land owners maintain their open space lands by restarting funding of the Williamson Act.  The Williamson Act allows private land owners to contract with local government and earn tax breaks, in exchange for limiting specific parcels of land to agricultural or related open space use.  Funding for the program dried up during California's budget woes and has yet to be restored.

“This is an important program for our district,” said Wood. “In our neck of the woods owning a big piece of land doesn’t mean you have a bunch of cash.  The temptation to develop or divide up and sell some of that land is very real.  The Williamson Act helps relieve some of that pressure and helps us maintain the beauty of our state’s open spaces.”

AB 2243 would levy a $9.25 per ounce tax on cannabis flowers, a $2.75 per ounce tax on cannabis leaves and a $1.25 tax on immature cannabis plants from nurseries.  The tiered approach is modeled after the way alcohol is taxed, based on the potency of the product, and is designed to ensure funding goes to the most impacted communities.

AB 2243 is projected to raise nearly $80 million annually; funds will be distributed in the following areas:

30% to fund the Watershed Enforcement Team
30% for local law enforcement
30% for environmental cleanup on public and private lands
8% to restart state funding of the Williamson Act
2% to fund inter-agency regional enforcement coordinators within the Department of Justice

AB 2243 will now go to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Elected in 2014, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D- Healdsburg) represents the 2nd Assembly District, which includes all of Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, plus northern and coastal Sonoma County, including the northern half of Santa Rosa.