Bankrupt California City May Turn To Pot Sales

Robert Calkin, the president of the Cannabis Career Institute, spoke at an exhibition called Hempcon held in San Bernardino, Calif., last year

Courtesy of Robert Calkin/AP

Lots of people are making money off marijuana sales. Officials in San Bernardino, a Southern California city that filed for bankruptcy in 2012, are wondering whether they might not profit as well.

Officials are considering a proposal floated by City Attorney Gary Saenz to regulate and tax medical marijuana dispensaries.

Saenz — who was talking about stepping up efforts to close 18 illegal dispensaries in the city just last week — now calls eradication both “futile” and expensive.

Acceding to California policy allowing medical marijuana, he says, will move distribution off the black market. He notes that Palm Springs, the only city in California’s Inland Empire that currently allows dispensaries, expects to collect $500,000 annually in taxes from marijuana sellers, despite having a much smaller population.

“The California Board of Equalization, which oversees the state’s sales tax, says once a city approves medical marijuana outlets, it can use the tax revenue any way it wants,” Reuters reports.

The city council is expected to hold a hearing on the matter next month.

“A year ago, I think perceptions were very different on this issue, but I think we’re starting to see the formation of at least some sort of consensus that we need to have some sort of regulation,” Councilman Henry Nickel told the San Bernardino Sun. “I think we’re reaching the tipping point.”

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