Los Angeles May Use Marijuana Tax Money to Help the Homeless

Los Angeles voters will decide in November if they want to tax marijuana businesses to help the homeless population.

Los Angeles has the most chronic homelessness of any city in the United States, and lawmakers believe using marijuana revenues to support housing and health services for them could make a difference. The county’s Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to put the measure on the ballot.

The measure would tax marijuana businesses at 10 percent “on the gross receipts of businesses that grow or sell marijuana,” according to the Associated Press. That wouldn’t just be the current medical marijuana businesses Los Angeles has, but it would also include recreational marijuana businesses if California approves legalizing recreational marijuana in November.

It is believed the tax could raise as much as $ 130 million per year. As someone who lives in Los Angeles, that’s good to hear, as it often seems like the homeless are getting little help in this city.

Los Angeles isn’t the only place that’s come up with the idea of using marijuana money to help the homeless. Aurora, Colo. has pledged to dedicate over $ 1.5 million of the $ 4.5 million it expects to make from marijuana taxes over the next two years to help homeless people. Perhaps this idea will spread to other cities across the nation.

One unusual question that has come out of Colorado since the state legalized recreational marijuana is if having recreational marijuana actually contributes to the problem of homelessness. Some have claimed that many Americans have moved to Colorado to enjoy its medical or recreational marijuana, and they haven’t been able to find work there. Without any employment, these people often end up homeless.

It would seem this wouldn’t be a significant issue if marijuana were legalized at a federal level, because then the few states that have legal marijuana wouldn’t be beacons for people who want to use medical or recreational marijuana without facing legal consequences. However, as it stands, it appears at least a small group of people trying to evade draconian drug laws in their home states are ending up in places that have legal marijuana but can’t provide them any work.

There’s no way of knowing if Los Angeles will see a spike in people moving there if marijuana is legalized, but it is possible that the homeless people currently living in Los Angeles could receive much needed benefits if taxes start being used to help them.

[Photo via Flickr/Garry Knight]

The 420 Times