Santa Ana City Council Remains Bold Leader in Cannabis Industry

Agrees Tax Breaks for Cannabis Retail Businesses Must be Shared with Workers and Communities

Santa Ana, CA – Yesterday, the Santa Ana City Council unanimously voted to provide a 3% tax break to cannabis retail businesses who uplift workers, the community, and the industry. The decision came after workers pushed to ensure the incentives were directed to businesses that incentivize local hiring, provide living wages and career pathways for workers, and promote social equity in our communities. 

“In order for us to better serve our community, it is important that we make sure that the reduction in taxes also benefits us as workers and the community at large,” said Alexis Medina who works as a budtender at a cannabis shop in Santa Ana. Three generations of Alexis’ family showed up to the city council meeting to support the tax reduction. “We need to make sure that the businesses who benefit from this tax reduction also benefit our community and that they’re also investing in our community as a whole. Both behind and in front of the register, supporting lower retail taxes for Santa Ana businesses that meet basic labor standards like paying 115% of minimum wage, giving workers opportunities to work full time, and provide career advances and opportunities are a few ways workers can benefit.”

The Santa Ana City Council voted to provide a lower rate of retail taxes for cannabis retail operators who:

  • Pay their employees at least 115% of minimum wage
  • Offer the majority of workers full-time hours
  • Assure that drivers are reimbursed appropriately for using their vehicles.
  • Provide on-the-job paid training opportunities with state-certified programs to create career pathways
  • Create an on-ramp into the industry for community members, and promote growth from within
  • Hire at least 40% of their employees from low-income neighborhoods in Santa Ana by 2025

A 2% tax break for high road employers would be on top of a 1% tax break for retail cannabis businesses across Santa Ana to provide much-needed relief for retailers who have been unable to maintain high worker wages, benefits, and career growth opportunities because of the high cost of taxes. 

“Lowering retail taxes makes cannabis more affordable and accessible to the community,” said Laura Mueller, who works as a budtender at Catalyst in Santa Ana. “Lower tax rates for business that take care of their workers and the community will help make sure people like me who grew up here in Santa Ana have opportunities to stay, work and thrive in this industry.”

UFCW members and leaders, community members and cannabis employers packed the Santa Ana City Council meeting for hours yesterday to show their support of the reduction of cannabis taxes for businesses who are good partners to their community. 

“UFCW Local 324 is proud our leaders in Santa Ana voted to support jobs that pay better wages and provide better benefits—like the ones we represent—that are vital to keeping our economy afloat and families out of poverty,” said Matt Bell, Secretary-Treasurer, UFCW Local 324. “Prioritizing good, safe jobs will provide workers with an opportunity to climb career ladders, gain industry recognition, education, and training. Santa Ana was the first city to regulate cannabis in Orange County, and this action continues that legacy.”

The ordinance also expands accessing by making Santa Ana the first city in Orange County that allows for on-site consumption lounges. Importantly, the City Council also agreed to give priority cannabis lounge licenses to businesses who uplift workers, the community, and the industry in Santa Ana.

The ordinance is expected to go into effect 30 days after a second reading October 4, 2022.

UFCW is the nation’s leading union representing cannabis workers, with 40,000 members nationwide.

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September 21, 2022

Contact: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620,