Marijuana, the New Cash Cow for City Coffers

Legalization could mean big bucks for Bay Area cities.

By Matt Baume
|  Wednesday, Oct 6, 2010  |  Updated 12:40 PM PDT
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If some Bay Area towns have their way, buying pot could practically become a civic duty.

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If some Bay Area towns have their way, buying pot could practically become a civic duty.

Statewide measures like Prop 19 have brought marijuana closer and closer to legality. And even before it becomes law, cities like Berkeley, Richmond, Oakland, and Albany are voting to expand growing operations and establish guidelines for taxing the sale of pot.

In Berkeley, two separate measures would allow organizations to cultivate plots of up to 200 feet, increase the number of permissible dispensaries, and create sales and property taxes on marijuana operations. Oakland's Measure V would more than double the sales taxes on marijuana. In Richmond, a proposed tax would impact anyone involved with the pot industry. And Albany is considering the creation of a pot business license.

If those measures pass, they'd be good news for government coffers. But Prop 19's dueling sides are both running low on funds right now. Although the advocates for legalization have vastly out-fundraised their opponents, neither side has much in the bank. Because neither side can afford an advertising blitz, they've relied on media coverage -- such as this article -- for publicity.

For now, legalization has a slight edge in the polls, although numbers have swing wildly over the course of the campaign.

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