Humboldt county has a gross annual income of $5.63 billion dollars; $2.04 billion of that is currently taxable. (http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/eab/socio_economic_files/2011/Humboldt.pdf).
A Eureka, California banker, Jennifer Budwig, has estimated that cannabis brings in around $2.6 billion annually (http://lostcoastoutpost.com/2012/aug/15/pot-still-king-or-it-merely/). Much of this income is currently untaxed. News commentary has suggested that these farms may currently provide as much as 25% of the County’s taxed income. Humboldt cannabis farmers are more than willing to pay taxes. If this estimate is correct, this untaxed source could add significant tax revenue to the County coffers.
Humboldt County’s per capita annual income is below the national poverty level. With the emergence of this industry we are perfectly positioned to change that forever. We are the largest coastal population base in northern California. Our unique Mediterranean temperate micro-climate produces the best quality cannabis in the world (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/biogeodata/atlas/pdf/clim_12b_web.pdf). The local farmers have 30 years more experience than the competitors. Contrary to popular belief, grade A cannabis can only be grown in very select regions by very experienced farmers. Our urban center is poised for growth with a shipping port that can access the world economy.
This is the fork in the road where we either vote to eliminate our potential cannabis tax base with over-regulation, and hand our business over to our competitors or we vote to double our County’s income and improve our quality of life for posterity by encouraging the cannabis industry.
Currently, local interests are attempting to limit and regulate production until it’s not possible to farm cannabis legally (https://humboldtgrower.wordpress.com/). Our competition in Sonoma County will not vote to limit production. Current federal law and enforcement limits the business opportunities of the cannabis farmer – the recent Newsom report (https://www.safeandsmartpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/BRCPathwaysReport.pdf) addresses this. One issue is access to banking services and the other issue is federal tax deductions – presently the cannabis farmer cannot file for any of the common federal deductions. The federal government is considering a tax rate of 50% (http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2015/05/11/fed-propose-50-marijuana-tax-as-a-tax-cut/). No one is handing out farm loans to cannabis growers to help them meet code requirements. Without banking services and tax deductions, these farms are looking at being bankrupted in their first year by startup costs alone(https://humboldtgrower.wordpress.com/).
If legalization is not structured to support the emerging cannabis farmer in Humboldt County, we stand to lose an increasing tax base. We must seize this opportunity to create thousands of local jobs and raise our per capita income substantially above the poverty line. If we share this vision, we can make it happen!