Saturday, November 26, 2011

Medical Marijuana Advocates in San Francisco: Not Feeling the Hope and Change

Back in November 2008, we predicted that much of the euphoria and optimism attending the election of Barack Obama would dissipate into feelings of disillusionment and betrayal. In particular, we expected Obama to break drastically with expectations and campaign promises to be a disaster for civil liberties. And unfortunately we've been entirely correct. Most recently, the President has chosen to confound and dismay his most ardent supporters in California by declaring war on the state's medical marijuana industry. And according to this piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, the federal crackdown is starting to make itself felt in the economy of the state's most Obama-loving city.

Statewide, the UFCW (which has been working on unionizing dispensary workers since May 2010) estimates that 2,500 jobs have been lost since the crackdown was announced in late September. In San Francisco, it's a good thing that so much high-technology employment is taking place these days, because three medical pot clubs have shut their doors in the city by the Bay, taking 50 jobs with them. Of course, if you're a medical marijuana advocate in the Bay Area, you might not necessarily be troubled by violent assertions of government power. You might, on the other hand, be troubled by things that reduce tax revenues, and all the sales and payroll tax dollars that medical marijuana dispensaries remit to government have also vanished as a result of the push to shut them down. The Divinity Tree dispensary, which closed its doors in the Tenderloin on November 11, claims it paid no less than $200,000 in taxes every year. Another, Medithrive, paid some $68,000 in payroll taxes and permit fees this year.

None of these things is necessarily good, of course: it's not as though union workers are hurting much in the Golden State these days, and governments in the state desperately need to adjust themselves to life with fewer tax revenues. But it does illustrate the peculiar contempt the President seems to have for his most passionate supporters.