Santa Barbara Goes Scorched Earth on Delinquent Cannabis Businesses

Santa Barbara County cannabis businesses that are behind on their taxes could soon lose their license to operate.

The county is implementing what District 5 Supervisor Steve Lavagnino called a new “death penalty” tax rule. Starting in August, cannabis businesses that fail to pay their taxes or file necessary paperwork could be put out of business after 30 days.

“It’s that severe,” said Deputy County Executive Officer Brittany Odermann. “You are late. … You cannot renew.”

The harsher penalties are a response to delinquency, which has been growing as the industry struggles. Although county supervisors all agreed harsher penalties were needed, not all of them agree with the threat to revoke licenses.

“Our intention is to get somebody to pay the tax,” said Lavagnino. “I would hope that we could come up with something that is the intent of what we’re trying to do.” 

County Supervisor Das Williams agreed, saying “this is a standard that, like, nobody else lives by.”

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