Voters in the Sonoma County city of Healdsburg will be asked whether to approve a measure that would add a cannabis business tax, despite the city having no existing cannabis businesses currently.

If approved, Measure M would allow the city to levy a tax of up to 8 percent of gross receipts of any cannabis business. In the city attorney’s analysis of the measure, the law would establish a taxing mechanism should the City Council elect to permit and regulate cannabis.

The Healdsburg City Council is currently reviewing options for an ordinance permitting commercial cannabis operations in town. City Manager Jeff Kay submitted a detailed report about the idea to the council last November.

The report doesn’t present an argument for or against, but cites studies that say that legal cannabis businesses have not significantly contributed to crime rates and have had “little” impact on traffic accidents or fatalities.

It lays out all the options the council could take should it decide to allow cannabis businesses in town, plus it gives an overview of legal cannabis history in California since Proposition 64 was passed in 2016 and the various types of businesses that could be approved, such as cultivation, retail, delivery or manufacturing.

In the argument in favor of the measure, proponents say passing it would allow Healdsburg to provide “oversight and regulations” surrounding cannabis operations. They say that even if someone doesn’t support legalized cannabis, voting “yes” on the measure would at least mean it would be “regulated fairly and properly from the start.”

Proponents also say that the tax could generate upwards of $500,000 annually for vital city services.

There has been no argument submitted against Measure M.

Currently, legal cannabis businesses in Sonoma County operate in Cloverdale, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Windsor, Petaluma, Sebastopol and the city of Sonoma.

Katy St. Clair got her start in journalism by working in the classifieds department at the East Bay Express during the height of alt weeklies, then sweet talked her way into becoming staff writer, submissions editor, and music editor. She has been a columnist in the East Bay Express, SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. Starting in 2015, she begrudgingly scaled the inverted pyramid at dailies such as the Vallejo Times-Herald, The Vacaville Reporter, and the Daily Republic. She has her own independent news site and blog that covers the delightfully dysfunctional town of Vallejo, California, where she also collaborates with the investigative team at Open Vallejo. A passionate advocate for people with developmental disabilities, she serves on both the Board of the Arc of Solano and the Arc of California. She lives in Vallejo.