Editor’s note: This piece was originally included as a sidebar in Kenneth Morrow’s September 2019 column.
I admire this simple example of sustainability done right…
Anthony Myint is co-founder of several San Francisco restaurants, including Mission Chinese Food and Commonwealth. In April 2019, Myint and his partner Karen Leibowitz decided to add a 1-percent surcharge onto their restaurants’ bills as part of the Restore California Renewable Restaurants initiative. Proceeds from that initiative go to California’s Healthy Soil Program, which helps farmers transition to methods that put carbon back in the soil. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle,Myint stated that if 1 percent of restaurants in California participated in this program it would generate $10 million annually toward healthy soils. The program is completely voluntary and customers can ask that the surcharge be removed from their bill.
When I first became aware of Myint’s initiative, I found it very proactive, farmer-friendly. I shared Myint’s initiative on my Instagram feed and received this comment: “sounds nice…. But Cali doesn’t need another tax… Especially from food and agriculture department. Should add this tax to cannabis and try and make up some more (insert crying face emoji).”
I am torn about that comment. No, California does not need another tax, as it already has the highest income tax rate in the U.S., among a abundance of other taxes from fuel to sugary drinks. In that sense, I get it.
But again, this initiative is voluntary. Would I choose to pay a 1-percent surcharge at a fast food restaurant that exploits the workers that cook food that is bad for me? Absolutely not! Yet it would be an absolute pleasure to pay a 1-percent surcharge to an establishment that operates in a sustainable manner and incentivizes and rewards the local farmers that produce their food—and cares enough about their food producers to pay a premium price for premium products produced in a sustainable manner with a focus on healthy soil composition.
And it seems others agree: the Basque culinary world prize was just awarded Myint and his wife/co-owner 100,000 euros for their work to fight climate change through “zerofoodprint” which is an initiative to help restaurants reduce their carbon footprint.
Could this model be replicated in the cannabis space? I personally would choose to pay a higher price to a grower for superior products produced in a sustainable manner. And I believe others will too.
Earlier this year, in May, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office amended its 2019 and 2020 cannabis revenue tax projections: from $355 million to $288 million (in 2019) and from $514 million to $359 million (in 2020).
Something similar happened in Sonoma County, where supervisors saw a shortfall in tax revenue in the 2017-2018 fiscal year and adjusted the 2018-2019 fiscal year projections. The 2018-2019 fiscal year ended in Sonoma County on June 30, and the county had surpassed its conservative projection by nearly $1 million.
“The cannabis program is still relatively new, and the budget projections were conservative,” Sonoma County Administrative Analyst Hannah Euser told the North Bay Business Journal. “There was also an increase in permitted operations in industrial zones over previous years.”
In short: The cannabis industry continues to grow in California, but not to the point that public officials are feeling the confidence that comes with an anticipated tax wellspring. Part of this stems from California’s precarious position of having the world’s largest cannabis market burdened by high tax rates and regulatory costs—which keeps the illicit market thriving and the tax boon at bay.
Revenues from the licensed marketplace are up year-over-year, from 2018 to 2019, but not enough to satisfy early hopes for the state.
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy pointed out that California’s cannabis tax revenue is lagging behind nearly every other state that has legalized cannabis and built out a regulated marketplace. (Massachusetts is the only state that has opened the door to adult-use sales since California did so, and it’s the only state that is bringing in less revenue through cannabis taxes per capita).
“This lackluster performance is partly due to the legal market’s short tenure … and partly due to policies that make it more difficult than average to open a legal cannabis store in California—and easier than average to operate an illegal one,” according to research director Carl Davis.
Anthony Myint 是旧金山几家餐厅的联合创始人，包括 Mission Chinese Food 和 Commonwealth 。2019年4月， Myint 和他的合作伙伴 Karen Leibowitz 决定在餐馆的账单上增加1%的附加费，作为 Restore California 可再生餐厅计划的一部分。该倡议的收益将用于加州的健康土壤计划，该计划帮助农民过渡到将碳放回土壤中的方法。在接受《旧金山纪事报》采访时， Myint 说，如果加州1%的餐馆参与这个项目，每年将为健康土壤带来1000万美元的收入。该计划是完全自愿的，客户可以要求从他们的账单中扣除附加费。
当我第一次意识到 Myint 的倡议时，我发现它非常积极主动，对农民友好。我在 Instagram feed 上分享了 Myint 的创意，并接受了这个评论：“听起来很棒……”。但 Cali 不需要另外的税收，特别是来自食品和农业部门的税收。应该给大麻加税，尝试再加税（插入哭泣的表情符号）。”
其他人似乎也认同这一点：巴斯克烹饪世界大奖刚刚授予 Myint 和他的妻子/共同所有人10万欧元，用于他们通过“零食打印”( zerofoodprint )对抗气候变化的工作，这是一项帮助餐厅减少碳足迹的举措。
今年早些时候，在5月，加利福尼亚州州长。Gavin Newsom 的办公室修正了其2019年和2020年大麻税收预测：从3.55亿美元到2.88亿美元（2019年），从5.14亿美元到3.59亿美元（2020年）。
“大麻计划仍相对较新，预算预测较为保守，”索诺马县行政分析师 Hannah Euser 对《北湾商业日报》表示。“与前几年相比，允许在工业区开展的业务也有所增加。”
美国税收与经济政策研究所( Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy )指出，加州大麻税收入几乎落后于其他所有大麻合法化并建立监管市场的州。（马萨诸塞州是自加州开始允许成人使用大麻销售的唯一州，也是唯一通过人均大麻税减少收入的州）。
研究主管卡尔•戴维斯( Carl Davis )表示：“这种乏善可陈的表现，在一定程度上是由于法律市场的任期较短……部分原因是政策使得在加州开设合法大麻商店比一般人更困难，而且比一般人更容易操作非法大麻。”