Growers “Just Say No” to Legalizing Pot

No, you're not high. Some growers don't want to legalize pot .

You’d think a law legalizing marijuana would have pot growers jumping for joy. It would increase the pool of customers and provide more freedom to sell and grow marijuana. But Bay Area grower Scott, who declined to give his last name, says the grass won't be greener if Californians vote this November to legalize pot for recreational use.

“I’m looking at it from a business standpoint,” Scott says. “I have some concerns about potential tax implications should [the initiative] pass."

The "Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010" would allow people 21 or older to possess, cultivate, and transport small amounts of marijuana for personal use. It would also allow cities and counties full control on how or if they would sell and tax the pot.

But cannabis cultivator Scott says he doesn't want the increased tax burden or the surge in competitors. He says he grows, on average, 20 pounds of pot a month. It retails for $70,000, which translates into more than $400,000 a year. He says, "Frankly, I’m concerned about increased competition. It's the same as if I owned a gas station. The last thing I'd want is more gas stations on my block.”

Matt Witemyre, an advocate of the Cannabis Act, and facilitator at Oaksterdam University, a school that certifies pot growers, says “Our most recent poll [by Survey USA] shows 56% of California support taxing and regulating cannabis, so we're very excited to see support in our state.”

Witemyre says California blazed a trail when it legalized medical marijuana. Thirteen other states followed suit. He's hoping voters do it again this November. He and other supporters say taxing marijuana would bring in 1.4 billion in additional tax revenue for the state. "When we're talking about laying off state employees, sending police and firefighters home and continually raising tuition on CA students, it's ridiculous to leave that opportunity on the table," says Witemyre.

But grower Scott says he will definitely vote no. He says the pro-cannabis measure would ultimately hurt his small business.

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