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By Tammye McDuff

The Bellflower City Council will hold their second scheduled Cannabis Workshop, July 26th. This meeting is a continued public workshop to consider various policy matters regarding cannabis operations.

California is a few months away from thousands of retailers acquiring a license to sell recreational marijuana to people ages 21 or older. Some have great concern about the impact the legalization will have on the safety of cities throughout Los Angeles County.

During the first scheduled workshop, city council directed staff to research the economic impact of conducting cannabis related business in Bellflower. As follow up the City has entered into an agreement with RSG group. Their community and economic development services provide social and fiscal information from economic development to project and program implementation. RSG is currently compiling a fiscal analysis using data received from the city, third party resources and will also include fiscal and economic studies prepared for other California cities for comparison.

Mark Ridley Thomas, Chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors of the 2nd Supervisorial District, states “I wonder how this ‘brave new world’ will make circumstances, conditions, and even life itself – better. Currently, all commercial cannabis is banned in the unincorporated areas of the county, and if it were up to me, I’d keep it that way until I felt confident that safeguards were in place to protect our communities.”

It is crucial that the Board of Supervisors enacts responsible regulation and gather input from stakeholders, to ensure by creating a commercial market for marijuana does not lead to negative consequences. Thomas notes that, “We have a responsibility to serve all 10 million residents of the county, not just the voters who said yes to Proposition 64.”

Proposition 64 proponents say it will generate tax revenue, business profit and jobs. It also claims that it will improve criminal justice by putting fewer people in jail for smoking a joint.

According to Market Watch the state of Colorado pulled in nearly $200 million in tax revenue last year from the $1.3 billion in marijuana revenue. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, along with Washington State, and this was its third year of regulated sales.

The first year revenue hit $699.2 million, followed by $996.2 million the second year.

The latest statistics from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in Washington State [May 2016] found fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled after the state legalized the drug. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that Los Angeles County fatal crashes involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana began to go up after 1996, increased 360% from 2003 to 2004, maintained an upward trajectory until 2008 before decreasing in 2009, and steadily rose again by 60% from 2010 to 2014. The increases coincided with the passage of the Compassionate Use Act, which legalized medical marijuana.

“The significant increase in fatal crashes involving marijuana is alarming,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Washington serves as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug.”

Los Angeles County’s Office of Cannabis Management is working closely with the Board of Supervisors, various departments and a broad array of stakeholders to develop comprehensive and reasonable ordinances and policies for both medical and recreational marijuana.

Thomas also commented, “One of the goals is to create an accountable and safe marketplace for the responsible use of marijuana rather than revel in overstated economic opportunity. Let’s be clear that gangs and cartels operate outside regulation, and dismantling this illegal market operating within saturated communities will be daunting.”