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What Will Pot Legalization Cost San Diego?

August 29, 2016 1:25 p.m.

What Will Pot Legalization Cost San Diego?


Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News

Related Story: What Will Pot Legalization Cost San Diego?


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Just how much money would San Diego make from attacks on legal recreational marijuana? The independent budget analysis is out with the tax on pot, that could amount to quite a bit. That is if voters approve it in November and they also approved a measure to add the tax. Metro reporter Andrew Bowen joins us to explain. The cities analyst says the city's proposed tax Measure N could bring in 22,000,000 in the first year and 35,000,000 in the second year . What are those based on?
They are based on sales of recreational marijuana in Denver, which is had legal pot since 2014. It's half the size of San Diego, it's a pretty rudimentary gas. It's difficult to get a picture of how much demand is in San Diego right now for recreational marijuana. It's worth noting, Denver does have much more liberal laws on where you can buy it. San Diego's are fairly restrictive and they only apply to medical marijuana. How much money the city gains depends on how easy it is or how easy the city makes it, for people to actually buy marijuana.
We would that money that the city gains go? What would a pay for?
It would go into the city's general fund, which covers a wide array of city services including the Police Department, code compliance and library and road repairs. Councilman Marc Courson -- Mark Kersey, says of the costs the general fund is the race -- correct place for the money to go. He also said, if it ends up filling potholes are things for libraries, because the cost associated with hot our lesson we expect. It's not the purpose, the purpose of the tax is to pay for the impacts of legalization.
Is there an estimate on the cost if the city legalize recreational marijuana?
Not really. There are figures out there for Colorado, it's Apple -- apples and oranges comparison, we don't have a clear picture of how much or how many people are purchasing it illegally or how many would be doing it legally. It's a gray area.
If approved, Measure N would go into effect if voters choose to legalize marijuana. Doesn't that included tax?
Yes. Several taxes, in fact. It's a $9.25 tax per ounce of dried marijuana flower, $2.75 tax on leave and that's for cultivation and there is a 15% special excise tax on sales, medical and nonmedical. And there's the regular state sales tax and local state taxes which is a percent in San Diego. It several layers of taxes that are on this. The state money would go to several sources, one interestingly enough would come directly back in form of a grant to UC San Diego and their center for research on medical cannabis. It would be to continue studying the effects of medical marijuana. The rest of the money would go to a number of different things. Many would go to youth programs, to prevent and treat substance abuse. Environmental cleanup -- cleanup from growth, grants for communities affected by the druglords, things like job placement centers, it would go to different things.
It would go to different things and you are saying it would trickle down to San Diego.
Local governments can apply for grants, basically. It's up to the cities themselves, whether they want to apply for those grants and how competitive they are will be determined by how much money the state raised, through legalization. Either way, Councilman Kersey tell me he was not optimistic.
LA and the bay area get most of that money. San Diego is left out looking for scraps. I don't anticipate we will see a lot of that money, maybe we will get some but it won't be very much. I don't think it will be anywhere close to what we need to cover the city's costs.
Andrew, how is it worked in other states that have legalize pot back says legalizing marijuana been a monetary boom for states like Colorado?
It's been quite lucrative. In Colorado in 2015, sales of recreational pot were just under $1,000,000,000. That brought in $135,000,000 in taxes and fees. California, is seven times the population of Colorado. It is already the biggest market for cannabis in the country.
Just medical marijuana right back
Marijuana in general I believe. There is little doubt that sales in California were surpassed Colorado quickly if not right away. Colorado wins voted last year on a tax refund that would take some of this pot money and give it back to taxpayers. Voters decided know they want the state to keep it and they have been spending and on schools to programs for homelessness.
I've been speaking with Andrew Bowen, KPBS Metro reporter. Thank you very much.
Coming up, the effort to identify people crossing I'd -- illegally who have lost their lives in the Arizona desert.
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