Following bankruptcy, San Bernardino, California is considering legalizing medical marijuana (MMJ) for tax revenue which will help lift the city out of economic turmoil. This is the second biggest city in the U.S. to declare bankruptcy. By allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to open their doors inside the city, San Bernardino plans to rake in the tax revenue. State Policies Director at the Marijuana Policy Project in California, Karen O’Keefe told Fox News, “This is a no-brainer. More and more people are realizing that you’d really have to be in the Stone Age to oppose this.” The city, about 60 miles east from Los Angeles, may have arrived at the conclusion, in part, due to the trouble it’s been having surrounding cannabis. In the foothills north of the city, law enforcement officials found 2,700 mature plants being grown at a campsite off of Highway 18.
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Though San Bernardino has been suffering financially since the start of the 2000’s, the downturn in the housing market starting in 2008 largely sunk the city’s finances. All the foreclosures hit the city hard, as it did in many California cities. The loss of property tax revenue was impossible to replace, and in 2012 the city filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The Golden State was the first to pass a medical marijuana law way back in 1996. Since then, 22 other states and the District of Columbia have followed.
Two more have passed recreational marijuana laws, and three more and D.C. may be added to that roster in November. Alaska, Oregon and Florida all have such ballot initiatives. Back in California, voters recently approved Proposition 215. This changed the state’s law so people with certain conditions such as cancer, arthritis and AIDS can grow their own at home when a doctor recommends cannabis therapy for their condition. City and other local governments are allowed to decide where to allow cultivators and dispensaries within their borders. San Bernardino City Attorney Gary Saenz backs the measure. Palm Springs did so also, a neighboring city, which has collected $500,000 in medical marijuana tax revenue. The city only has 45,000 residents.
San Bernardino officials say that the city doesn’t have enough resources to crack down on the underground marijuana industry. The city could then save on law enforcement and collect tax revenue which will help it with its budget woes. On August 19. the city council of San Bernardino will debate the medical marijuana issue.