Most reactions to the Obama administration’s unexpected declaration of war on medical marijuana have focused on the emotional outrage generated by such complete disregard for the desires of Americans. However, the economic context of these actions should be at the core of any discussions to an even greater degree, as this is as blatant and callous a dismissal of our grievances as we have have seen in quite a while.
As protests around the country are erupting over the increasingly troubled economy and President Obama works to make his “American Jobs Act” a campaign centerpiece, the very same government has decided to destroy countless jobs and livelihoods in California. Marijuana dispensaries across the state employ thousands of people and have served as a rare nexus of opportunity in a bleak overall landscape. Besides all the people needed to operate the business, dispensaries hire delivery drivers and security guards, they present landlords with reliable earnings and maintain a large sector of cannabis growers.
The benefits of dispensaries also spread well beyond the marijuana industry, as the always popular storefronts revitalize the surrounding real estate. Marijuana dispensaries in remote or otherwise unpopular areas bring in daily traffic and with it, more opportunities for surrounding businesses. That same traffic, as well as a wealth of security measures, has also been found to reduce local crime rates. Curiously, the RAND study that determined this was recently and unexplainably taken offline.
Then there is the obvious issue of lost tax revenue at a time when every dollar raised is needed. California’s situation is particularly dire and why the state should resist these attacks by any means necessary. Earlier this year, the state was already dealing with a massive $26 billion budget shortfall and lawmakers settled on massive spending cuts and hopes for better revenues as their solution. In the resulting plan, brutal cuts would be automatically triggered if the budget fell short by $1 billion or more. As usual, the estimated 1.4 billion in base taxes from legalizing marijuana was not a fact to be considered, as even a state deficit the size of Panama’s entire GDP is evidently not enough to reconsider legalization.
As of September 30th, California’s budget was falling short by $705 million and fast approaching the first round of triggered cuts. Once the shortfall reached $1 billion, state universities will be hit with $100 million in budget cuts each, tuition will go up in community colleges and the state will cut services for the elderly and disabled. The California Board of Equalization estimated in 2009 that marijuana dispensaries in California brought paid up to $100 million in taxes, considering industry growth that number could easily be doubled or even tripled today. Now, by seeking to close down dispensaries and turn all the revenue over to the black market, the federal government has made it almost certain that Californians will be hit by these cuts. Should the deficit grow to $2 billion, the school year will be cut short and the state will end home-to-school busing subsidies. For all the US Attorney harping about saving children from the evil weed, their actions are directly and measurably hurting millions of California kids and parents.
The prohibitionists and their agents must be called out as the job killers they are. There is simply no other way to look at on organized attack on a harmless industry that provides huge economic opportunities during difficult times. Nobody bothers the corporations that outsource jobs and avoid most taxes; nobody tries shutting down banks that lose millions of their customers’ money in risky gambles. And yet marijuana dispensaries that create local jobs, pay taxes and improve their neighborhoods are treated like criminals enterprises and persecuted by multiple federal agencies. The people can only tolerate so much hardship and the Obama administration’s economic hypocrisy is already getting too big to swallow. If the president cared about the deficit, legalization should be on the table; if he cared about jobs, he should not order them destroyed.
Disclaimer: These opinions and statements made in these posts are solely the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion of 420 Petition and its parent company.