CALIFORNIA CITY – After long sticking to only allowing marijuana to be sold for medicinal purposes in California City, a last-minute change means the City Council is now expected to approve sales for recreational purposes at its next meeting, which could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in new tax revenue.
In a late-meeting shocker that took the few left in chambers by seeming surprise, Cal City Councilman and longtime advocate against marijuana Chuck McGuire suddenly announced just before adjournment during Council comments that he had a meeting with two cannabis companies reps on May 5 here in Cal City after which he had a change of heart about the possibility of legalizing the massively profitable recreational marijuana use passed by California voters in November 2016 as Prop 64 or the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative. That allows for Adult Use Marijuana to be sold legally to those citizens of age 21 and older.
Councilman McGuire stated that he feels the city should consider allowing the cultivation, manufacturing and distribution of adult use (recreational) cannabis accompanied by one of two new permits the city will issue. He went on to describe them as 1. Permit A, to cultivate, manufacture and distribute adult use cannabis (essentially the same as the original medicinal marijuana permit holders but with a broader sales base); and 2. Adult Use Permit B, which would allow for not just the one agreed upon medical dispensary, but to expand that to two of them, one out by Highway 58 and one out by Highway 14 but still inside city limits. The Permit B would require some form of competition to issue as more than one company will likely seek those spots quickly.
The two companies that Councilman McGuire spoke to are Lotus River Inc. and SFV Caregivers (San Fernando Valley Caregivers). The owner of one of them, named simply Mo, showed the Councilman how they handle their business of 12 years now with five large areas in Los Angeles.
McGuire told the Council that he asked some direct questions of Mo and this is what Mo said the city might expect: $250,000 to $500,000 per month in tax revenue from this one outlet alone. Start time from permit to operations is expected to take 3 months or less, with tax revenues to come in 5 to 6 months or less. Security is 24/7 with video and security guards. The fencing has double-gate entrances for all employees, etc. The outlets would seek to hire locally and the wage they pay is $22 per hour.
The Councilman got emotional as he then stated that, “After meeting Mo, I feel much better about this idea, and feel he would be an asset to this city. … I have to compromise for the sake of the city and that challenges me down to my very core. … As much as I absolutely hate to do this, and I do, I must direct the Council to place this item on the next Council Agenda.”
Previously, California City was openly against such allowances and barely passed the Medical Marijuana measure due to opposition from Councilman McGuire himself. After studying that concept he reluctantly agreed to medical cannabis in Cal City as did Councilman Parris – also a major opponent to marijuana legalization both based on their law enforcement and military backgrounds. They both eventually came around to the medical idea and the tax base Cal City needs desperately, while remaining staunchly opposed to the product itself beyond its medicinal purposes. They opposed the idea of even one dispensary to be located here in Cal City but finally capitulated on that to make it easier on medical patients to obtain it without having to drive to Rosamond to fill their prescriptions.
Last Council meeting the concept of adult use or recreational marijuana (now called adult use cannabis) in California was brought up with statistics showing that 90 percent of the tax base revenues come from that and only 10 percent from the medical cannabis sales. The whole point of Cal City getting in the cannabis business in the first place was to extract enough tax revenues from it to fully fund an expanded public safety program. After legalizing marijuana for adult use, the state of Colorado took in over $10 million in cannabis tax revenues in one month last year, and came in just under $250 million in fiscal 2017.
The item will appear on the next Council meeting agenda for the May 22 meeting, at which time the item is expected to pass based on vocal agreement by the remaining Council Members to that effect. Even though Mayor Pro Tem Gomez will have to recuse himself from that vote, with McGuire on board it will likely pass 3 to 1 unless Councilman Parris also has a sudden change of heart on the issue.
Many were more than just stunned as the chamber had nearly emptied out an hour earlier showing no one expected this to come up in the final minutes before adjournment. Pastor Ron Smith was most heated about the sudden addition to the next agenda and voiced his disappointment with McGuire’s change of heart, stating that, “There goes the Parcel Tax,” suggesting that there would be repercussions to that effect once the word gets out about the Adult Use plans.
But should Cal City somehow come back from the brink it has been teetering at, and should both the Parcel Tax and the Adult Use go into effect, the city of California City could blossom into that Golden City in the desert almost overnight with such a massive influx of revenues the likes of which it hasn’t seen since the days of Mendelsohn and company. All things sought could then be available to finish building that special City in the Desert envisioned by many.
Among the possibilities: the ability to expand both the Police and Fire departments with new recruits; to be able to meet any situation that arises with all necessary modern equipment; to bring more ancillary businesses to the city and with them an even bigger local tax base, etc. The possibilities are endless if that scenario of both Parcel Tax and Adult Usage passing should occur, and it is within two votes to have it all. Now it is up to the citizens.
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Kane Wickham on Desert News
Published: May 11, 2018
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News