CA: With Spotlight On The Medicinal, Adelanto Makes First Pitch For Pot Tax


Adelanto – Making its first formal pitch to voters Tuesday evening, the city unleashed a panel of medical marijuana industry insiders to vouch for the plant’s health care benefits as a November ballot measure looms that would tax commercial pot activities here.

Measure R would enact an up-to 5 percent excise tax on cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, testing and dispensing – activities which are all expected to be legal within city limits by the Nov. 8 election.

Much more so than a proposed 0.05 percent tax on businesses’ gross annual revenue, which is called Measure S, the pot tax is considered a critical measure for the long-term solvency of the city, which faces a growing $744,073 deficit.

“The city desperately needs an influx of cash so it will survive,” City Attorney Curtis Wright said.

Of Tuesday’s four-person panel in front of roughly 100 people inside a conference room at Stater Bros. Stadium, most shared deeply personal stories of how they were galvanized to champion pot as an alternative to major pharmaceutical drugs.

The focus on the health care element, relegating the economic aspect to the back seat for the time being, represented a return to the narrative that was widely leaned on during the pot plan’s infancy in early 2015.

“You’ll actually get to pass something that is helping real people every day and see your city thrive because of it,” said Joel Stanley, CEO of CW Hemp, creator of Charlotte’s Web, a popular hemp extract for treating seizures and other conditions in pediatric patients.

It works for the daughter of Ray Mirzabegian, chairman of the High Desert Cannabis Association. His 12-year-old daughter has Dravet Syndrome, a type of epilepsy, and had suffered from as many as 130 seizures per day, he said.

However, it was Mirzabegian’s experience with Charlotte’s Web and his daughter’s improvement by taking it that ultimately launched his advocacy for medical marijuana. He said she’s no longer on 13 medicines as she once was, and suffers only a seizure a week on average.

“This is what medical marijuana did for my daughter and my family,” he said, adding later, “I want to raise awareness. I want everybody to have a shot at this.”

Christopher Kavanaugh, a Marine veteran, espoused the benefits for the High Desert’s veteran community, those who may suffer from unbearable physical pain or post-traumatic stress disorder. These were ailments Kavanaugh said drove him to drink and experiment with hard drugs, yet he is now a chef with three companies.

“It’s been a pretty amazing turnaround,” he said, “but I tell you what, I couldn’t have done it without cannabis.”

Jerry Davis, with the Adelanto Growers Association, entered into the industry about a decade ago after he saw marijuana’s positive impacts for his ill father.

“What you’re about to see in this city,” he said, “is the opportunity to put Adelanto on the map – with it’s good people – as the hub of medical marijuana.”

Entrepreneurs suggested that Adelanto’s embrace of medical marijuana would make it easier for purveyors to step out from the shadows and assist the city with community services as the Adelanto Growers Association had done over the last year.

But cities like Adelanto also must realize value from the endeavor, hence the pot tax, Stanley said.

Paralleling the current climate restricting marijuana to alcohol prohibition, Mayor Rich Kerr doubled down on the message that residents won’t see increased costs by voting to pass Measure R.

“This is a business tax, this is not on the citizens of Adelanto,” he said. “You have nothing but to gain from this.”

And to businesses, Kerr assured: “We are not here to hinder you in anyway.”

Some in the audience questioned how funds garnered from the tax will be spent and when the city may realize its benefit. Wright said the Council will ultimately be able, as policy makers, to direct the money through the general fund to cover a litany of city and community services, calling the beginning of next year a viable starting point.

City spokesman Michael Stevens hoped attendees – which included former NBA basketball star Bryon Russell and former Chicago Bear football player Turk McBride – would be converted enough to vocalize their support to others by word of mouth.

“This is important in order to have all the services all our other neighboring cities have,” City Manager Cindy Herrera said. “We want that for you.”

A second town hall is scheduled Oct. 13.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: With Spotlight On The Medicinal, Adelanto Makes First Pitch For Pot Tax
Author: Shea Johnson
Contact: 760-241-7744
Photo Credit: Shea Johnson
Website: Daily Press