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Hashish taxes save 350 jobs in Chicago

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The value of cannabis sales to a government is usually expressed in terms of cold sums: the millions of dollars that flow into the public purse over the course of a month or year. Every now and then, however, the world is viscerally reminded of what that revenue can actually mean.

Cannabis sales generated $ 800 million in tax revenue across the country this year.

The city of Chicago provided a vivid example last Saturday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that she had canceled plans to cut 350 jobs in the city because of the windfall the city received from sales of recreational and medicinal marijuana. The cuts would have come from a combination of layoffs and vacation, and the elimination of some vacancies.

Covid devastated the city’s tax base

The vacation days seemed inevitable given the way the coronavirus had ravaged the Windy City. Things were so bleak that Lightfoot said the layoffs were a “penultimate resort” – a property tax hike was the last – to close a yawning budget deficit of $ 2 billion.

Instead, cannabis sales “went through the roof”, topping $ 100 million for the first time in Illinois in October and topping $ 800 million nationwide in the ten months since sales began earlier this year.

Bond against future cannabis income

Those sales were made in Chicago: hundreds of city workers can keep working. The city will instead issue a bond against a “conservative estimate” of future marijuana revenues to help address the deficit.

Non-union city workers earning $ 100,000 or more – including the mayor and councilors – will continue to take five days of unpaid vacation as part of Lightfoots’ “Pandemic Budget”. But otherwise it was cannabis sales to the rescue.

This is despite the fact that Illinois has some problems with its cannabis program. The state has only allowed existing medical marijuana operators to sell adult cannabis to the public since the program began on Jan. 1. This has led other potential retailers to request access.

And Illinois cannabis taxes are among the highest in the country. A local tax that is higher than a state tax means eighths can cost more than $ 75. Critics point out that this could drive buyers back into the illegal market.

Cannabis jobs across America

Dave Howard

Dave Howard is a national magazine editor and award-winning author. His latest book is Chasing Phil: The Adventures of Two Undercover Agents with the World’s Most Charming Con.

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