CA: The High Cost (Not Revenue) Of Marijuana

Photo Credit: BloxImages

“Fool me once, shame on you!  Fool me twice, shame on me!”

In 2016, Proposition 64 was sold to California voters as a way of preventing recreational pot users from going to prison, and a merciful gesture to those with a legitimate need for medicinal marijuana. Oh, and by the way, the taxes collected would solve all the financial problems of the State of California and its counties in the process.

We had forgotten the lies used in 1984 to pass the state lottery, which we were assured would solve all the financial problems of public education in California and do away with portable classrooms forever. How did that work out for us!? Every year the lottery gets richer and our schools get poorer, having to beg for every penny they get while the state controls where it can be spent.

But now the snake-oil salesmen are at it again, promising that commercial marijuana is the cure to all our ills. So let’s take a look at some of the facts.

S.C.I., the consulting firm the Supervisors hired to advise them on “cannabis”, stated in their report in August of 2017 that, based on their “Rule of Thumb #1” model, the county could expect to receive between $10 and $20 of tax revenue for each member of the population. Under that model, with a population of roughly 50,000 outside of Sonora, Tuolumne County would receive a total of between $500,000 and one million dollars a year. And with a budget of $177,537,000, even the highest tax projection would mean an infusion of just over one half of one percent of the total budget.  That would probably cover about a mile of small potholes. And at what cost?

The City of Sonora under this model would receive a mere $50,000 to $100,000 for which they are allowing the possibility of pot shops on the Washington Street and Stockton Street corridors, volatile chemical processing plants in the city and businesses dealing in large amounts of cash and pot that will attract criminals to Sonora. And yet the only City Council member brave enough to stand up to the marijuana industry is Mayor Connie Williams. She has my respect.

But what about the regulatory fees paid by businesses, growers and processors you might ask?  According to the state, those fees can only be high enough to cover what is actually spent by the city and county to regulate the industry and enforce ordinances and regulations.  City and county compliance with this rule will have to be proven through endless time studies and reports to state regulators, creating a huge bureaucratic burden for our officials.

Now remind me again; why do we want to call down on our county the same curse that Calaveras County struggles with to this day?  My heart goes out to those brave souls across the river who are struggling to return sanity to their county.  Keep up the good fight!.

But I have forgotten! We’ve been assured repeatedly by the proponents of commercial marijuana that “Calaveras did it wrong, but we will do it right.” What arrogance.

I wish there was the space and permission to list the endless parade of reasons for denying this industry control of our county and representation on our boards and councils.  It may sound melodramatic, but we are in a fight for the soul and reputation of our community and  must use our voices and our votes to protect what we know to be right.