In 2018, 289, or 58% of California cities and counties legalized some form of commercial cannabis activity, including cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, retail or testing. Of those, at least 53% did not impose a local tax on cannabis, and the average gross receipts tax across activities was just 5%. In the era of COVID-19 when local budgets and staff are being severely cut, and critical social needs go unmet, reasonable local cannabis taxation could provide a much needed source of revenue. Amongst those who did levy a tax, little or no revenue was dedicated to community social needs, youth or prevention, while law enforcement budgets continued to rise.

Our speakers will discuss, at this time of shrinking local revenue due to the pandemic, where we stand on local marijuana taxation in California, sharing new research on how these products are being taxed and regulated in California’s 539 cities and counties, how to tax cannabis commerce locally, how current cannabis tax revenues are primarily benefitting law enforcement and offer some alternative approaches for capturing revenue to benefit youth and communitiesand meet local needs.

This Forum is recommended for local elected officials and policymakers (city council members, supervisors, fiscal staff, public health staff, social services), and community advocates for youth, public health or substance abuse issues.


Lynn Silver, MD, MPH, FAAP

Director, Getting it Right from the Start

Public Health Institute

Oakland, CA

  • Clinical Professor, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Dr. Lynn Silver, a pediatrician, researcher and public health advocate, is Senior Advisor at the Public Health Institute and Clinical Professor at University of California San Francisco. She focuses on policies to prevent noncommunicable disease, its risk factors and inequitable impact. Silver was Assistant Health Commissioner of New York City…

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Michael Colantuono, JD


Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC

Grass Valley, CA

Michael Colantuono is an attorney at Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC; President of the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California; City Attorney for the Cities of Auburn and Grass Valley; and Agency or General Counsel for a range of public agencies across the state.

Michael has specialized…

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Jim Keddy, MA

Executive Director

Youth Forward

Sacramento, CA

Jim Keddy is the executive director of Youth Forward ( and a consultant to social change organizations ( For thirty years Jim has served as a leader in social change efforts in California. He is the former director of PICO California, a statewide association of community organizing efforts, and served…

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Alisa Padon, PhD

Research Scientist, Getting it Right from the Start project

Public Health Institute

Oakland, CA

Dr. Alisa Padon’s past research focused on youth-targeted marketing and promotions of alcohol and tobacco products, examining the intersection between the unique vulnerabilities of youth and the psychosocial and neurocognitive appeals and techniques used in marketing. She is now translating that work as a research scientist at the Public Health…

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