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Chico bans recreational marijuana dispensaries, losing millions for city

City council member being greedy Photo credit: Briana Mcdaniel

In what can only be described as economic self-abuse, Chico City Council voted Sept.19 to prohibit recreational marijuana dispensaries within Chico, losing potential millions in tax revenue.

The City of Chico’s minutes for Sept. 19 shows that the City Council voted to ban recreational marijuana dispensaries and public smoking of marijuana, yet did not ban the recreational use or personal indoor growth.

It may shock city council to find out that banning marijuana dispensaries will not prevent anyone from getting marijuana, instead, it prevents the city from cashing in on a massively lucrative industry. It’s a truly mind-boggling move by the conservative-led city council, especially considering conservative politics usually espouse a hands-off approach to economics.

Instead, Mayor Sean Morgan, Vice Mayor Reanette Filmer, and City Council Members Andrew Coolidge and Mark Sorensen all voted to throttle the life out of what could have been a multi-million-dollar business in Chico.

Not only would recreational marijuana have been a massive economic boom to the city, it would have brought in millions in taxes. Fortune reports that the City of Coalinga anticipates gaining about $3 million in marijuana tax revenue, and the City of Gonzales could bring in $1.6 million.

Coalinga and Gonzales have a population of around 13,000 and 8,400 people respectively. The U.S. Census estimates Chico has a population of 91,567. Even with an extremely conservative estimate, Chico, a liberal college city with tons of weed-smoking liberals and college students, would have likely brought in tens of millions of dollars in taxes.

That’s tens of millions of dollars that could be used to help solve Chico’s homeless problem, fund education, help prevent drug and alcohol abuse or revitalize city infrastructure. At the very least, it’s tens of millions of dollars that could have helped support lower taxes, breathing economic life into the community.

Conservatives usually love lowering taxes, but for whatever reason, Mayor Morgan and the rest of the conservative City Council decided to pass that opportunity by and shoot themselves in the foot.

Recreational marijuana is going nowhere, it’s easier to get pot in Chico than it is to register to vote. There was no reason for this, other than some misguided, moralistic and preachy attempt at keeping Chico stuck in the past.

Fiscally conservative principles focus on freeing businesses from bans and regulations so they can be competitive and thrive. So, Mayor Morgan and the city council members that voted to ban recreational marijuana dispensaries have a question to answer: What exactly are your principles?

Grayson Boyer can be reached at the [email protected] or @gray_boyer on Twitter.

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