OAKLAND — A 15-fold increase in the tax on Oakland's medical marijuana dispensaries won an easy victory Tuesday night, election returns showed.
Voters also strongly supported an increase in the city's hotel tax; a decrease in the amount of money mandated for youth programs; and an amendment to the city's tax code to ensure transfers through corporate mergers and acquisitions are taxable. Together, the measures could generate about $7 million or $8 million a year for cash-strapped Oakland.
The tax on marijuana dispensaries could have the smallest budgetary impact for Oakland, but it garnered attention across the region because people believe it could help legitimize medical marijuana and possibly adult cannabis use in general.
"Hopefully it is a sign of things to come," said Richard Lee, president of Oaksterdam University.
Measure F, as it was known, will create a new business class for the dispensaries, which will see a tax increase from $1.20 for every $1,000 in gross sales to $18 per $1,000. It could generate an additional $294,000 a year for the city when it takes effect Jan. 1.
Even with the measures' passage, the city has serious ongoing financial issues.
The City Council will be forced into making additional budget cuts in the coming weeks or months because of the state's raid on local coffers and the fact that Oakland will receive far less than it originally hoped from a federal grant to pay for police officers.
Voting in the city's mail-only election began about a month ago. Dave Macdonald, Alameda County registrar of voters, said the results posted on the registrar's Web site Tuesday reflected almost all the ballots cast, with the exception of some received Tuesday and a small number of damaged ballots that hadn't yet been counted.
Angela Woodall contributed to this story.