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Marijuana Legalization Has Economic Impact

Created: 28 February, 2018
Updated: 13 September, 2023
3 min read

The legalization of recreational marijuana in California has created a new source of tax revenue for cities and the state government, as well as a new industry for entrepreneurs.

“The voters have decided to legalize it, they decided that, that decision is no longer open for discussion, so now, we have an opportunity to look at a potentially new industry that could bring in substantial amounts of tax revenue,” said Cindy Gompper-Graves, president and CEO of South County Economic Development Council to La Prensa San Diego. “We want to make sure we equipped the cities with the understanding of what or may happen like some of the things that Colorado experienced. There was a high concentration of dispensaries in warehouses that they absorbed a lot of the commercial and industrial building space, so if you were other kind of business that wanted to go in, there was no space available or at a higher cost.”

Leaders from the cannabis industry talked about this challenge and other opportunities of bringing the cannabis industry to South County at San Diego’s first economic impact forum held at the Chula Vista City Council Chambers, on Thursday, Feb. 22.

South County Economic Development Council (SCEDC) hosted and moderated the forum. The panel included David McPherson, cannabis compliance director of HdL Companies; Kelley Bacon, deputy city manager of the City of Chula Vista; Dan Rowland, vice president and principal consultant of 420 Advisory Management; Laura Wilkinson, managing member of Caligrown; and Dr. Jason Poulos, CEO of Librede.

“This is a new industry that is worth exploring,” said Sally Preston, SCEDC chair. “It’s important for us to analyze the potential job creation in South County and economic opportunities that come along with it.”
The cannabis industry is set to generate $7.6 billion in California by 2020, while creating jobs in the community both directly and indirectly.

The City of San Diego estimates up to $22 million in revenue from gross receipts by mid-2019 and Chula Vista is anticipating tax revenue for all approved usage to be in the $6 million range.

“We appreciate the opportunity to discuss the economic impact of cannabis legalization,” Bacon said. “This session brings together experts who can provide insight into the economic factors a city should understand as legalization is considered.”

Rowland, who was involved in integrating legalized marijuana regulations in Denver, detailed the economic findings from Colorado, highlighting the increased employment that they saw.

In 2014, 14,209 jobs were created as a direct, indirect, and induced result, while in 2015 that number rose to more than 18,000.

“The four most in-demand jobs right now are retail associates, deliver drivers, marketers and processing personnel,” Wilkinson said. “But there are many, many more. With new regulatory compliance requirements, dispensaries will likely hire compliance directors, accounting and bookkeeping positions, and security guards to name a few.”

New jobs are also expected at government positions including more staff for regulation positions and more.

At the forum, there was also a discussion about the innovation opportunities in the industry.

“Cannabis is a production factory for therapeutics, we can move beyond the plant to create a more efficient factory. This is the future of the industry,” Dr. Poulos said. “Our area is well positioned to dominate a global cannabis market. Enabling the growth of new technologies to address industrial scale supply issues is an opportunity that can’t be missed.”

Chula Vista City Council is expected to vote on an ordinance about the sale of recreational marijuana, on Tuesday, Feb. 27. The Imperial Beach City Council just met on the issue this Wednesday, Feb. 21, to draft an ordinance outlining commercial sales of recreational marijuana but it still needs public input.