The Albany City Council unanimously approved on Monday a measure for November's ballot authorizing a tax on marijuana dispensaries within city limits.
The measure would tax for-profit businesses at $25 per $1,000 of gross receipts and nonprofit businesses at $25 per square foot.
The measure would need a fifty-one percent majority to pass.
"For us to be prepared is a good thing," council member Farid Javandel said. "For any business that wants to open, they want to know what they're getting into. This seems like a perfect way to do it."
Mayor Joanne Wile, agreed and referred to a 2006 ballot measure allowing one medical marijuana dispensary to operate in Albany.
"The citizens of Albany said a while back that they want to have these kinds of services available to residents."
There currently is no known dispensary within city limits. The tax measure also covers the city if a statewide measure legalizing marijuana on the same ballot passes.
Council member Robert Lieber said that even if the state measure passes, Albany will not likely suddenly fill up with pot clubs.
"We don't know what the ramifications of that passing in the state of California would be," he said. "Of course there will be court challenges. And it doesn't change federal law."
Lieber added that the city still would be able to regulate where and how many such businesses would be allowed, much as it does with liquor stores. The rates were chosen after surveying nearby cities that have already passed similar measures, such as Berkeley and Oakland.
Albany's 2006 measure allowing a marijuana dispensary came about after two individuals came forward to apply to open a club. Since its passage, no dispensaries have opened.
"There's been some discussions but nothing that went all the way through," Javandel said.
Lieber said that he has some ambivalent feelings about legalized marijuana.
"As a politician and as a nurse, I see that many of our problems stem from drug use and the way the law treats drug addiction," he said, noting the large percentage of the state's prison population stemming from drug offenses.