Pages

August 21, 2009

Why doesn’t Walnut Creek vote to tax its new pot club?

We could follow the lead of Oakland, where 80 percent of voters in July said yes to a special landmark measure to tax sales of marijuana at the city’s four licensed medical cannabis dispensaries. Walnut Creek could become the second city in the United States to tax proceeds on medical marijuana. It could tax its new dispensary, the C3 Collective on Oakland Boulevard.

Walnut Creek could become another West Coast trend setter!

The Oakland measure imposes a 1.8-percent gross receipts tax, which amounts to about $18 for every 1,000 in marijuana sales. One Oakland dispensary, whose owner celebrated the measure, will have to pay more than $350,000 from the new tax next year. “It is important because the city of Oakland is facing a massive deficit like many jurisdictions in California," said the owner, Steve DeAngelo.


Hey, Walnut Creek is facing a major budget deficit. That’s one reason why the City Council and business and community leaders want Neiman Marcus to come to town: the potential sales tax revenues.

Okay, I can just hear the cries of outrage. How dare I compare posh Neiman Marcus and its posh patrons to a not-so-posh pot club and its maybe-not-so posh patrons?


To borrow a term from the great American capitalist Michael Corleone, I’m right now, for the sake of an argument, looking at this medical marijuana issue from a “strictly business” standpoint. Perhaps, the potential economic benefits revenues from having a medical marijuana dispensary in town could be one of the issues the city looks at as it studies the issue, after instituting its 45-day ban on C3 Collective's operations.

Fellow Walnut Creek blogger, the DUBC, touches on the economic motives of the medical marijuana business and has a very good debate going about the arrival of this dispensary in town. The DUBC also provides some interesting background on Brian Hyman, the owner of the C3 Collective, and of the club’s renowned, pro-marijuana supporters. You can read it here. Actually, the DUBC uses more harsh language in referring to these economic motives. He calls it a “medical marijuana sham.” The DUBC writes: “Let’s get real about this. It's about making money and getting high.”

(Making money and getting high? Gee, couldn’t you say the same thing about the liquor and wine industry and the bars around town. For liquor and wine makers and bar owners, isn’t it all about them making money to help us get high?)

The DUBC continues: “The legislation started with people that had ‘serious medical conditions.’ Now for every cancer patient there are a hundred 18- to 20-year-olds getting prescriptions for insomnia, back pain and stress. They pay $100 for a ten minute "consultation" and can go get their medicine. … If the people vote for legalization then we are all for it. Until then, keep this stuff out of our city.”

I agree that we as a society need to get this marijuana legalization question settled. For the record, I would probably be in favor of legalizing marijuana, not because I myself would partake—I tried it a couple times in high school and college and didn’t like it. I would be in favor because I like to drink wine, and not just for the flavor. I drink wine because, at the end of the day, it makes me feel nice. I don’t think I—or anyone else who seeks that “nice” feeling from a glass of wine or a lemondrop or apple-tini—is in the position to judge someone who prefers to smoke marijuana as their path to feeling "nice."

Also I voted for Proposition 215, but I agree with the point the DUBC is raising about the real motives of many in the medical marijuana world. These pot growers, distributors, and dealers, as well as producers of paraphernalia and pot candy, didn’t entirely get into the business to ease the suffering of cancer and AIDS patients. Oh, sure, some might genuinely view themselves as healers, and some might do some good for very sick people.

But, it’s also about money. Lots and lots of money.

And speaking of money, in my post yesterday, arguing that Wallnut Creek is not all that conservative, one reader correctly pointed out that our non-partisan city government generally leads towards retail, real estate and other business concerns. Such as Neiman Marcus, and urban-style mixed-use developments, and bars and restaurants. So, if that’s how our city council leans, why not throw the C3 Collective into this mix of potential local revenue generators?


As for the DUBC’s statement about keeping “this stuff out of our city.” Well, I’m sure he knows that this stuff is already in our city, whether it comes from C3 Collective or some dealer peddling in a parking lot.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really don't see why pot is illegal in the first place.

If the feds had any sense, they'd legalize it and treat it like alcohol (set age limits and still penalize people for DUI).

The upside to legalzation would be that the country would reap the tax benefits on the production and sales sides; presumably in the process cut the big narc powerbreakers out of the whole equation and in the process reduce related crime and associated violence; save themselves the manpower of having to police the stuff in Humboldt County and everywhere else in the country; and free up police, legal and judicial resources to deal with crimes worthy of our attention.

Having said all the above, I do agree with critics who say that the medical pot dispensary community seems to be combination of people who benefit from its medical use and everybody else who is merely looking for a gray area in which to make big profits selling pot to anyone who walks in the door with some half-assed "prescription." But here again, legalize the stuff and we'd put an end to that hypocrisy.

Thud said...

I'm with Dubc on this.

Anonymous said...

I think your point about the pot business being about money is irrelevant. It's no different than Big PhRMA. Yes, there are people along the line that have a human interest, but the almighty dollar is the bottom line.

Marijuana should be legal, period. Prohibition didn't work with alcohol, and it won't work with MJ. Legalize, regulate, and tax it. Take some of the criminal element out of it.

Good God, couldn't the schools use the money that's spent on the failed War on Drugs?

I totally agree with 2:21.

MickeyMartin said...

This is a very thoughtful and open minded piece. Thanks for sharing your spirited opinion. While I agree with you that medical cannabis can provide economic benefits to the community, remember that all dispensing collectives operate as not for profit businesses. Many donate a great deal of their income to community service projects in their local areas, such as a great community garden that is developing in Sacramento, or the sponsorship for the upkeep of the Berkeley Warm Pool in B-Town. THese organization often organize their patients to participate in litter removal and improvement projects as well. The old "pothead" stereotype is dead. Most of these dedicated organizations DO believe in the healing properties of cannabis and DO enjoy providing medicine for patients. The money is not a factor, as the Attorney General guidelines concerning medical cannabis do not allow for mega-profits to be realized. Many directors and staff make a fair living, but no one is buying a yacht this year. Hope that provides some insight. Thanks for your insight into this subject. It is well thought and very reasonable.

Anonymous said...

listen to mickey he's 100% correct. there is no margin for mega profits in canna-buisness. leave the Marijuana smokers alone, I dont see what makes people feel that they should be able to raise a tax on a legal form of medicine. and trust me, it is a form of medicine for us all some how or another. what im getting at is im sick of these greedy bastards with this "tax the potheads" theme going on. ya, if the clubs coming to your are, tough up, dont use these people for the taxes. thats like cortez plundering the aztecs. bs. and i think that raising the tax from 1.8% to 18% on cannabuisnesses is highly unjust. undo the government,