LA’s Medical Marijuana Industry Could Help Provide Homes for the Homeless

By May Wilkerson 04/06/16

A 15% marijuana tax is one of nine proposals up for consideration to help LA fund a $2 billion housing project. 

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LA’s Medical Marijuana Industry Could Help Provide Homes for the Homeless
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Could the medical marijuana industry help Los Angeles’ growing homeless population? The city is considering new funding sources to help reduce the rate of homelessness—which has dramatically increased by 12% in the past two years. Among the proposals is a 15% tax rate on the cultivation and sale of marijuana.

Last month, city officials approved a housing project that would provide affordable housing units and support services to residents. But the project, to be completed over the next 10 years, would cost a steep $2 billion. "Even as our economy improves, we do not anticipate to have an additional $1.78 billion over the next 10 years to dedicate for this purpose," Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana recently told the city council.

Officials estimate that a medical marijuana tax could bring in about $17 million a year for the state. “Marijuana is a new product in the marketplace and could be a significant source of new revenue,” reads a recommendation in the proposal. This would only make a small dent in the cost of the housing project. However, the tax revenue is expected to increase substantially if California legalizes recreational marijuana this year, which is not unlikely.

The LA city council will decide on the proposal by July and, if approved, it will be on the ballot within the next year. Various California cities have already passed similar tax plans, including the municipalities of Riverside County, Cathedral City, and Desert Hot Springs. But this one could still face some opposition. Patients who use medical marijuana tend to oppose marijuana taxes, claiming it makes it more difficult for them to access necessary medicine. And pot advocates argue that taxing medical pot creates an economic burden for patients that can drive them back into the black market.

The marijuana tax is one of nine proposals up for consideration to help LA reduce its homelessness problem, including a $1 billion bond issue, which the city would pay back over the next 30 years with property taxes. Another proposal is to raise the current tax rate on real estate sales, which would bring in an extra $167 million a year.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.

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