In the Colorado River city of Needles in San Bernardino County, 79percent of voters approved Measure S, which allows the city to tax medical marijuana dispensaries at a rate of up to 10 percent of their gross receipts.
The tax is in addition to the current business tax imposed on businesses in the city of roughly 8,000 residents.
The City Council has yet to decide how much it will tax its sole dispensary and any dispensaries that plan to open in the future, City Manager David Brownlee said.
Washington state and Colorado made history Tuesday after voters approved ballot measures making them the first states where marijuana can be consumed legally for recreational purposes. Voters in Oregon, however, rejected a similar ballot measure.
And the state of Massachusetts became the 18th state in the nation to have voters approve a ballot measure legalizing marijuana for medical use.
"I think voters are seeing that prohibition has failed and it's time to regulate the whole market," said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, a trade organization representing medical marijuana businesses. "I think the signal is pretty clear that voters do not want the federal government stepping in on state affairs
Paul Chabot, president of the Coalition Drug Free California, a nonprofit aimed at curbing youth drug use in the state, has been on the front lines of the war on medical marijuana for the last several years.
Chabot blames passage of the laws in Needles, Washington and Colorado on a lack of action by potential opponents of such laws who may be uninformed.
"I think California can be a model for other states on how to fight back against marijuana legalization," said Chabot.
He said his grass-roots movement helped in defeating passage in 2010 of Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana in California for recreational use.
And while laws were passed in other states or municipalities Tuesday legalizing marijuana for recreational use or establishing regulations for dispensaries, voters rejected proposals to allow dispensaries in San Diego County and Palo Alto.
That's because there is a strong movement against dispensaries in those areas, Chabot said.
"You don't see those kind of coalitions in Colorado and Washington," Chabot said.
He says a small contingency of people fund pro-marijuana initiatives and it takes a concerted effort to fight them.
"They're a very big political machine. They have hundreds of paid lobbyists in Washington D.C.," Chabot said.
The reality, Chabot said, is not that the legalization of marijuana is gaining favor among Americans, but the reverse. He said more than 200 cities in California have banned dispensaries.
"I can't think of a single city that looks the other way. Everyone seems to be hammering the dispensaries," Chabot said.
Smith said San Jose and Oakland, like Needles, have imposed similar taxes on marijuana dispensaries. He sees it as discriminatory.
"I don't like that idea of coming in and imposing these high tax rates while businesses still have to worry about (law enforcement) kicking down their door," Smith said.
California voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, in 1996, authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Despite the proliferation of new laws being passed or proposed in defense of marijuana, the federal government still sees it as a controlled substance with no medicinal value and continues its crackdown on dispensaries.
In 2010, weeks before California voters rejected Proposition 19, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced federal authorities would continue its aggressive crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries.
That went against President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign promise that the federal government would not target marijuana businesses so long as they were following state law.
It's that kind of wishy-washiness that has to go, Smith said.
"They're definitely sending a mixed message," Smith said. "It's on the onus of the White House to uphold its stated policies to respect state laws. The buck stops at the White House."