Councilmember Taylor Submits Cannabis Tax Relief Focused on Equity and Small Businesses

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Councilmember Loren Taylor

Oakland City Councilmember Loren Taylor wants to incentivize Cannabis Business operators to help the city reach its goals of hiring those who live in Oakland and those who were adversely affected by incarceration from drug activities.

Although the revenues for 2018-2019 have grossed more than $13.8 million for the general fund that helps to fund police, homeless services, public works and other functions, “there is a need to make sure we honor our commitments to diversity in the workforce of this industry as well,” said Taylor.

Taylor wants data that measures who benefits because “if you can’t measure, you can’t improve.”

He cited how SB1294 provided $millions in  grants to Oakland, yet some of the money (approximately $200,00) is just sitting in an account.

Taylor also acknowledged that achieving true equity throughout the vertically integrated industry is difficult but he is hopeful that the new cannabis entrepreneurs are willing, “With some tax rebate incentives we can close the gaps.”

He introduced a draft ordinance to the City’s Finance Committee on Oct. 8 that aims to improve upon Oakland’s Cannabis Equity Program and make it more successful.

“As Oakland builds on the work that has already been done, I aim to direct our collective knowledge towards a cannabis solution that focuses on equity and small businesses,” said Taylor. “I have heard from many different stakeholders on this critical issue and know we must incentivize the behaviors we wish to see.”

In June of this year there was a proposed across-the-board tax reduction for cannabis businesses, but Loren recognized that advancing this proposal would merely exacerbate the status quo in the cannabis industry : the fast growth of companies whose majority white- ownership and employee base does not reflect the diversity of Oakland nor provide meaningful wealth creation opportunities for the intended targets of its Cannabis Equity Program – Oakland’s Black and Latino residents who have been significantly negatively impacted by the war on drugs.

Taylor’s proposal ensures that business tax relief is tied to the behaviors and outcomes he believes will deliver on Oakland’s stated priorities. These priorities are::

1. Repairing the harm cause by local, state and federal governments’ past actions (e.g., the war on drugs that had a disproportionate impact on the Black Community)

2. Increasing the quality of life for all Oakland workers

3. Driving greater business opportunities for Oakland businesses

To see a video of Councilmember Taylor’s presentation to the Finance Committee, visit http://oakland.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=3400&meta_id=283804

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