Attorneys Say Humboldt Owes Pot Cultivators Millions

Humboldt County is facing a lawsuit from cannabis stakeholders who say the Board of Supervisors made unwarranted changes to a voter-approved measure spelling out cannabis grow taxes. Now they want to see millions of dollars returned to cultivators.

The suit was filed May 14 by attorney Eugene “ED” Denson and co-counsel Frederic Fletcher on behalf of the Humboldt-Mendocino Marijuana Advocacy Project, the Humboldt Cannabis Taxpayer’s Association, the Humboldt Voters’ Association and two Bridgeville property owners. They claim that the changes made to Measure S effectively swelled the amount of taxes owed by growers and could end up costing cannabis cultivators their property.

“At this point, my researcher tells me that there’s been about $4 million collected from 2017 taxes, most of which are probably illegal,” said Denson. “So it’ll be a big deal to get this money back to the community and out from the county’s hands.”

The Times Standard  lays out the myriad ways that the language of Measure S was changed, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs argue that the Board’s changes violate Proposition 218 and other laws which prohibit increasing an approved tax without voters’ say.

Humboldt County Counsel Jeff Blanck has said the suit has no merit.

“We are complying with the voters’ intent. The fact that it needs to be interpreted is not illegal.”

The county has two more weeks to issue a formal response.


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