Well, the Obama administration has done it again.
In three years, our president has both fulfilled and ignored many promises; few promises.
However, have gone back and forth as frequently as his claims regarding the hault on federal interference of the Controlled Substances Act and promise to leave medical marijuana dispensaries alone.
I am not a President Barack Obama hater, nor am I a medical marijuana user, but for a president whose aim is to create change and stop meddling in state affairs, he sure isn’t looking too good right now.
Before you start thinking this is just another marijuana-is-good-for-you speech, hear me out: Obama has spent months upon months of his presidential term trying to create jobs and boost the economy. The way I see it, tearing down the walls of a pretty well-established industry that has had state-level laws in its favor for more than 15 years is a job-destroyer and will inevitably heighten the unemployment rate. While many of these “pot shops” are keeping their doors open without business licenses, employee payroll or paying proper taxes, there are many more doing things correctly. So making the assumption all dispensaries are bad for the community, and bad for the economy, or even just plain bad is an extremely large umbrella of close-minded thought.
There are more than 150 medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of San Diego alone, each employing anywhere from 10 to 15 staff members. Because the federal government began cracking down on California dispensaries yet again last month, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s website lists the names of more than 30 medical marijuana storefronts that have been shut down already, leaving a potential 300 to 450 San Diegans out of jobs. If all of the dispensaries in the city were forced to close their doors, an estimated 1,500 to 2,600 people would be out of work.
Former Healing Arts manager and current Bay City Organics owner, R. Sanchez (who requested his first name not be printed), was forced to close his storefront and revert back to accommodating his patients through a delivery service. According to Sanchez, five of his employees are now out of work because of the risk associated with running by delivery only. When asked what statement he feels the government is attempting to make, Sanchez said, “There’s a lot I could say in what I feel they’re doing, but the bottom line (is) it’s about money and election time.”
It’s completely possible, yet highly unlikely, that the Obama administration, the federal government and city officials haven’t thought of it yet, but job loss is a major factor in the widespread fight against pot shops, and the never-ending battle between federal and state governments. Not only are employees of these shops going to be out of work, but the doctors issuing the recommendations required for admission to a shop, the advertising companies helping to maintain a steady patient flow, magazines such as Nug and Kush that keep patients informed, supply advertising and offer cannabis cooking advice for patients who cannot smoke, patient-aimed online radio shows such as Nug Radio, and a number of other businesses will be forced to close or downsize because of the attack on Proposition 215 and compassionate use. Landlords are getting rent from these stores, utility companies are providing service to these stores and the list of job losses and lack of money flow goes on. By this point we’re talking about thousands of potential incomes snatched from ill-prepared San Diegans. There simply isn’t any more money available to keep paying unemployment to citizens out of work because of our government not knowing how to pick its battles wisely.
In a statement from California National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, spokesperson and coordinator Dale Gieringer said, “With the federal budget on empty, the economy in disarray, our prisons overflowing and prohibition-related violence raging across the border, it’s an outrageous misuse of federal resources to wage war on marijuana dispensaries.” In response to the federal government’s destruction of money flow and job availability, Gieringer said, “California’s dispensaries account for over $1.5 billion in business, $100 million in sales tax revenues and thousands of tax-paying jobs, according to estimates by CalNORML.”
The “legalize it” and “marijuana is medicine” arguments are fair, yet severely overused. Our federal government has proven time and time again money is what makes the world turn, so perhaps it’s time it began looking at the job losses, revenue potential and the ridiculous amount of money being spent on a “war” that can’t be won. If it’s money the government wants, leave dispensaries the hell alone and it will be money it’ll get.