Opinions on Cannabis have changed significantly in the last decade. By and large the people of California voted to approach Cannabis as we have alcohol and cigarettes – an option for adult consumption. As Cannabis has been legalized across the country we have seen the majority of communities’ demand that a portion of this tax revenue directly benefit the community – typically children. The San Joaquin Children’s Alliance successfully advocated for 50% of the tax revenue to be directed to children’s and youth prevention and early intervention programming. While it has been established by state law that adults can use Cannabis legally and we hope responsibly, underage usage is a significant issue. High School students currently report that it is easier to purchase marijuana than it is alcohol or cigarettes. Even more alarming is the report that more than 70% of high school students do not believe that regular usage has any negative impact on their bodies.
A poll commissioned by the county discovered that the community by and large is in favor of allowing legal Cannabis businesses to exist under strict regulations with a clear revenue benefit derived from this new industry taking root. Directing 50% of the revenue towards children’s programming and the other 50% to enforcement and public health clearly meets the demands of the voters and provides the best path forward to improve our community.
Without a revenue base to offset existing enforcement costs the county will be unable to significantly address the existing public health issue. Moreover, black market operations may continue to jeopardize the stakeholder’s health and safety of not only Cannabis users, but the community at large