Potty plan: Bankrupt U.S. city looks at marijuana sales to raise funds

The city attorney of bankrupt San Bernardino, California, has a novel idea for raising new revenue - open medical marijuana dispensaries to sell pot. As San Bernardino struggles to deliver a bankruptcy exit plan two years after it filed for Chapter 9 protection, city attorney Gary Saenz says marijuana sales should be part of the southern California city’s income. He cites the example of smaller Palm Springs, California, population 45,000, which levies a 10 percent tax on medical marijuana outlets that nets $500,000 a year. San Bernardino has a population of 210,000.

Look at prohibition. Let’s make it legal, and regulate it and control it.

Fred Shorett, a city council member who supports the proposal

Saenz’s proposal will be debated by the San Bernardino city council on Aug. 19. He says revenues will initially be used to fund police efforts to crack down on illegal marijuana outlets. The California Board of Equalization, which oversees the state’s sales tax, says once a city approves medical marijuana outlets, it can use the tax revenue any way it wants. The Board of Equalization estimates the total sales of medicinal marijuana in California ranges between $700 million and $1.3 billion annually, resulting in $59 million to $109 million in sales tax revenues.