(LOS GATOS, Calif.) The town council of Los Gatos voted last week to hire a cannabis consultant to assess the viability of a potential commercial dispensary in the town.
According to reporting from the East Bay Times, the consultant will evaluate potential tax revenue for the town and help educate the community on what the legalization and eventually, the sale of cannabis would look like in the small town.
Mayor Rob Rennie expressed support for the independent assessment from the consultant and noted that input from residents is critical for an issue like this. The town attorney has already hosted 10 meetings regarding the potential legislation and distributed an online poll to residents.
Of the roughly 950 people surveyed last year, 50% were "strongly opposed" a potential cannabis business, while 25% "strongly supported" it.
This marks the first step in a potential lengthy journey for the somewhat sleepy South Bay town. Los Gatos borders the Santa Cruz mountains and has historically been a more conservative, less cannabis-friendly environment than the neighboring Santa Cruz.
The unnamed consultant will present their findings to the town council, after which it could put a question on the November ballot about taxing marijuana sales. If that measure were to pass, the council could then decide to legalize marijuana usage and sale in the town.
The town will use $50,000 from the capital and special projects budget reserve to pay for the consulting fees.
Rob Schultz, the Los Gatos attorney, noted that typically Bay Area cities that legalize open themselves up to untold extra revenue because all the tax revenue from cannabis sales goes to the municipality, regardless of whether the consumer lives within that municipality or not.
While the untapped revenue is appealing to city officials, some residents expressed hesitation about what they view as a seedy industry taking root in the neighborhood.
"This will be a determinant to our town ... this will be a pothead town," resident Joanne Rodgers noted during public comment.
Public concern notwithstanding, officials in Los Gatos are looking at the revenue neighboring cities are raking in as a barometer for the effectiveness and potential roadmap for legalization. San Jose is expected to draw in $17.5 million in tax sales revenue over this fiscal year.
Mountain View, rather than larger and more metropolitan San Jose, reflects a more accurate comparison of revenue generation.
"I think over time, demographics change, laws change, taste changes, retail changes," Councilwoman Maria Ristow said.