Small town America is disappearing. Fewer people are living in small towns and more people are flocking to urban areas and suburban areas where jobs are more common. It’s something that has been going on for decades. Small towns have fragile economies, often revolving around one or two major businesses. When those business, or the industries they are in, go under the towns usually go with them.
That’s why every job and every tax dollar that the legal marijuana industry can bring is important in small town America. Unfortunately, less populated parts of legal states seem to be the ones more likely to ban cannabis businesses. It’s a shame on many levels, one of which is the opportunity that small towns are missing out on. The City of Huntington in Oregon is a good example of what can happen when small towns embrace the cannabis industry. Huntington’s population is less than 500 people, and it was struggling to survive. The budget for Huntington is only $200,000 a year. Thanks to two marijuana businesses in the area and the tax dollars they generate, Huntington’s budget could double. Per the Post Register:
The city of Huntington won’t know how much tax money it can expect from the dispensaries until the state of Oregon starts disbursing it.
The first installment is due soon. Nash, the deputy recorder, said 420Ville’s owners estimate the city will receive $100,000 per year from that one store. The city’s general fund is about $200,000 per year, so if HotBox Farms sees sales similar to what 420Ville is claiming, the dispensaries alone could double Huntington’s budget. That doesn’t count additional revenue from Burnt River Farms, the grow operation, or the other new businesses in town.
Nash said the city anticipates splitting its windfall evenly between its six major accounts: law enforcement, fire, water, sewer, streets and a fund that pays for management of city-owned properties.
Two small towns in Colorado are bringing in significant tax revenues compared to the size of their annual budgets. Per Telluride News:
Lynne Beck, finance director for the Town of Telluride, explained that in 2014, the first year of recreational marijuana sales, $234,074 in local taxes was generated.
Over the past two years, the local tax revenue from marijuana has been $181,252 in 2015 and $191,485 in 2016, Beck said.
In 2015, the town (Ridgeway) collected $110,300 in local taxes. The number increased to $156,914 in 2016. Numbers for 2014 were not available.
A town in Washington called North Bonneville has a city ran dispensary called The Cannabis Corner. I have only heard good things about the dispensary, which has been open since 2015. It was the first town-owned marijuana dispensary in America, and is a prime example of how the cannabis industry can help bring jobs to the area and help stimulate the local economy. Small towns should be embracing the marijuana industry, and not letting the public policy failures of the past prevent much needed jobs and/or tax dollars to come to the area. The cannabis industry can do wonders for small town America, if given the chance.