Re: Cannabis Chronicle (GT, 12/21): The Cannabis industry is complaining that their tax rates are too high for them and they can’t afford to make a profit, so they are lobbying to get their taxes lower. And guess what? They are winning. They are getting supported by people, maybe even paying them out, which means less tax revenue for childcare and youth prevention groups. Communities of color and youth are affected by the cannabis tax cut, which means no funding for prevention programs in a community at need. This may result in a rise in substance use, higher incarceration, and less affordable childcare, which is the last thing this community needs.
We strongly oppose these tax reductions because not only us but millions of youths of color that rely on youth prevention groups will be affected. Empower Watsonville is a youth-led group that focuses on expanding youth advocacy to implement more equitable policies. This is sometimes the only guaranteed state funding in communities like mine and with a cut in the tax rates, it’ll all go away.
Communities of color struggle every day to make ends meet. This issue isn’t going away—why are people supporting this? Why would anyone support reducing cannabis taxes where it imposes a threat to communities that will be negatively impacted like mine. We choose to ignore that children living in poverty and youth of color have a higher risk of engaging in using substances. We are way behind in providing stability for vulnerable communities, and we need this funding accessible more than ever. So, if the cannabis tax is reduced, all that money will be used for intense marketing to target youth, these youth who need stability. Affordable childcare is a huge problem, as wages are low and childcare rates are high. That help that is protected, as of now, by the funding that is allocated because of the taxes on cannabis.
Empower Watsonville is not just an ordinary afterschool program. We are learning to inform about policies and laws that affect us to create change within our community. We are staying active and vigilant to ensure that our voices are heard on policies that disrupt all the hard work we have been doing to reduce substance use.
Mia Ruiz, Empower Watsonville Youth Advocate
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