California began regulating the legal sale of cannabis at the beginning of the year. In Los Angeles, which could grow into the single largest city weed economy in the country, most of the sales have been concentrated in one area. At the beginning of last month, all the legal pot shops open for business were in the affluent neighborhood of West Hollywood. Two storefronts of the MadMen dispensary franchise have also received proper licensing, and they’re in two more well-to-do neighborhoods: Downtown and Beverly Grove.
So far, the smaller cities and neighborhoods within the greater LA area have been left out of the legal cannabis loop. We’re not completely sure why that is, but for many of these cities its out of choice. Compton and Inglewood, two cities on the southside of Los Angeles, have both voted to ban legal cannabis within their limits.
According to the LA Times, “Compton and other Southern California cities with large African American populations have opted against legalizing the pot trade, worried about the effects on the community and the message it sends.”
Concerns over infrastructure seem to have motivated these bans as much as effects on the community. Though that 45 percent total sales tax on legal sales may look juicy to some city officials, many see the downsides. According to Compton Councilwoman Emma Sharif, it would cost the city $6 million to hire enough city employees to keep up with the applications, regulation, and law enforcement that legal cannabis traffic would bring.
Sharif was also concerned that the licensing of all-cash businesses could cause an uptick in robberies. “I don’t believe bringing marijuana into the community would’ve been good for the community,” she said.
Inglewood’s mayor, James T. Butts, predicts that the high sales tax on legal marijuana could actually be a burden on the city, as it would likely cause shop owners to hide sales and thus increase crime in the city. Butts said he would rather create jobs in Inglewood “the good old fashion way” by incentivizing development to create “construction jobs with training programs and local hiring goals that resulted in people being hiring and getting skills they didn’t have before.”
Photo via Flickr user Jim Fischer