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Should taxes on marijuana businesses help pay for homeless services?

A homeless man fixes his tent along a street in Los Angeles.
A homeless man fixes his tent along a street in Los Angeles.

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A new ballot measure approved this week by the LA county Board of Supervisors will give voters the decision of whether to tax marijuana businesses to help combat homelessness.

The proposal suggests a tax of up to 10% of gross receipts from businesses that sell marijuana or related products. County analysts speculate that if passed, the measure could garner up to $130 million dollars per year to fund services like rent subsidies, mental health and substance abuse treatments.

The Board’s 3-2  vote last Tuesday included Don Knabe, Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis voting in favor for the marijuana tax while Michael D. Antonovich and Ridley-Thomas voting against the measure.

Solis and Kuehl stated the vote would be a major step toward addressing the pervasive and growing homelessness crisis. Antonovich stated concerns about the impact on public health and safety of legalizing marijuana while Ridley-Thomas expressed a need for more time to analyze the effects of a marijuana tax.


Robert "Bob" Solomon, Co-Director of Community & Economic Development Clinic and clinical law professor, University of California, Irvine

Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Supervisor representing the Second District