Cannabis Tax Revenues Continue to Soar

Backup in Business License Applications

Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

Despite the pandemic’s crippling hit to the economy, cannabis tax revenues in Santa Barbara County have continued to increase.

This was just part of the report given on cannabis in the county on Tuesday. The county’s cannabis principal analyst Brittany Heaton and fiscal and policy analyst Steven Yee reported on county cannabis in the third quarter of the 2020-21 fiscal year — tax revenues, enforcement, compliance, and more. The following are key takeaways from the presentation:

•  The county received $5.1 million in tax revenues in the third quarter — a 160 percent increase over the same quarter of last fiscal year. Staff estimates that the county will have collected $16 million in total revenue at the end of the fiscal year.

•  Of the 118 operators in the county, 59 reported gross receipts; 41 reported zero gross receipts, which happens in certain instances, such as nursery operations. Eighteen did not report at all.

•  Overall, 176 proposed project applications have been submitted for land use entitlements (legal process in real estate that involves gaining approval for a development plan), and 26 projects received issued permits. Just in the third quarter, two new projects have been submitted.

•  There were four enforcement actions during the third quarter. In total, 594 plants were eradicated and 123 pounds of cannabis products were confiscated — totaling an estimated street value of $600,000 — and six arrests were made.

•  The selection process for cannabis retail storefronts is complete for five of the six areas. The Orcutt area is still waiting to select an applicant for a dispensary because of a court order. The applicants who came in first have 90 days to submit a complete application to the Planning and Development Department.

•  Heaton said that processing business license applications is an emerging issue. In total, 69 operators submitted applications to obtain 119 business licenses, of which only 22 have been issued.


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