Fresno misses out on tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales

Tuesday, January 2, 2018
pot taxes

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Long lines formed at California marijuana dispensaries open for the first day of legal, adult use, or recreational marijuana sales. The state and cities that allow sales will collect taxes from cultivation, manufacture, and sales, about 45 percent of the total cost but Fresno is among the cities missing out.

"Sure they are, absolutely they are missing out, there's taxes coming out of LA there's taxes coming out of Oakland, big numbers," Shannon Luce said.

The state is estimating revenues of at least a billion dollars a year, that will be shared only with cities that allow recreational marijuana sales. The Fresno City Council recently agreed to consider allowing medicinal sales, something legal elsewhere in the state for 20 years.

Clint Olivier said, "Fresno is just on a different timetable, we're going to be a little bit behind the curve compared to what some cities are doing."

Medicinal production and sales don't generate much tax revenue. Recreational sales are where the money is and marijuana advocates like George Boyadjian believe that if medicinal sales work in Fresno, it won't be long until adult use and recreational sales will be allowed.

Shannon Luce operated a medical marijuana dispensary until the county banned medicinal cannabis sales eight years ago and shut it down.

"I'm more heartbroken than dismayed, its fairly conservative here, so I get it's a lot of the old school thought process of it's the evil weed, I totally understand that, but that plant has come so far in the eight years I've been really involved with it that I thinks it's a travesty we haven't gotten involved sooner. We could have been leading the way on this," Luce said.

Council President, Clint Olivier believes with the recent unanimous vote by the council to open the door to medicinal marijuana shows the times are changing.

Olivier said, "It shows the elected officials in this building are forward thinking, and they are not sticking their head in the sand. That they want to find a way to tax and regulate cannabis so we can take a chunk out of criminal gangs and put some money into our general fund so we can provide city services."

Fresno is still months away from allowing medicinal production and sales and allowing recreational sales still faces tough opposition from law enforcement.

One Fresno County city, Coalinga, is allowing commercial cultivation but is months away from allowing recreational sales.