The voters have spoken. It's Legal
Protect Local Business
In spite of the overwhelming local support for the cannabis industry every single time it has appeared on a ballot or petition, our City government continues to treat our legitimate responsible taxpaying dispensaries as if they’re undesirable nuisances. The dispensaries have consistently proven themselves to be good neighbors over more than a decade, with a security presence that augments our City police force. Even given the shabby treatment they’ve received at the hands of local officials, our dispensaries currently generate nearly ten times the revenue for the City that the proposed marine terminal and cement plant would have contributed on their best day by their own inflated calculations. The dispensaries also produce more living wage jobs, without all the trucks, trains, and air pollution.
That two million plus in annual Measure C tax revenue generated for Vallejo is just the tip of a massive financial iceberg that has been submerged for decades in the black market economy as a result of cannabis prohibition. Legal cannabis sales in the U.S. jumped 17% to $5.4 billion in 2015, and were expected to grow by 25% in 2016, to $6.7 billion, according to Arcview Market Research. With the passage of Proposition 64 adding legal recreational use to the existing medical cannabis market and the state of California in the process of developing a comprehensive regulatory framework, this industry offers the best growth opportunity anywhere in sight to help fund City services.
In order to capitalize on this opportunity, our City government must finally abandon a posture heavily influenced by the fading prohibition stigma. One expression of that outdated mindset is the continued refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of our dispensaries with use permits like any other business. Instead they remain in a legal limbo where the City declares them illegal in every zone but tolerated under a contorted ‘limited immunity from prosecution’ status. This prevents our dispensaries from making ordinary business decisions to move, upgrade, or expand their facilities.
There’s no enforcement when fly-by-night dispensaries openly set up shop to compete with our responsible taxpaying dispensaries without licensing, inspections, or paying any taxes. We all lose when the City is unwilling to enforce even the haphazard set of rules that have been put in place. After allowing unchecked proliferation of these outlaw storefronts and delivery services for years, the City finally took action to shut some down last year, and engaged in a round of self-congratulation on the success of that effort. In reality they were just playing whack-a-mole.
Now the process is repeating as unauthorized storefronts once again open without consequence, the newest at the bottom of Tennessee Street. Legitimate dispensaries paying eighteen percent tax to the City on gross sales can’t possibly compete with these scofflaw operations. It’s disgraceful, and it’s embarrassing. Once the word gets out that Vallejo is a town where you can set up shop and operate for a year with no hassle from the City and no taxes required, they will come flocking in from all over the state.
We had a big head start in the legal industry with the passage of Measure C and an established distribution network. We’ve largely squandered that advantage, as neighboring jurisdictions become aware of the opportunity to help their bottom line and have begun to pass sensible ordinances that encourage the industry to locate in their city or county. Dispensaries are just one facet of this burgeoning industry. There will be tremendous opportunities in production, processing, manufacture of the large and growing variety of consumer products, breeding, testing, packaging, and other ancillary businesses. Most of these activities are already going on all over town, and we need to bring them out of the shadows in the interests of public safety and taxation, in line with the new state regulations.
If you are a medical marijuana patient, please do not patronize these illegitimate outlets that take money out of the local economy and give nothing back. The legitimate operators who have persisted and endured years of neglect and harassment from local government deserve our continued support, and the City desperately needs the tax revenue. Apparently we need to send one more loud and clear message to City Hall that the status quo is completely unacceptable. What we need now is a sensible comprehensive ordinance that will comport with the coming state regulations in recognition that this is now a legal industry, and one offering unrivaled opportunity to help put our City back on its feet.