The Payton Perspective: Antioch marijuana industry will hurt economic development, image efforts

By Allen Payton, Publisher

Tomorrow Saturday, March 24, the Antioch City Council will receive and consider a report about possible cannabis/marijuana businesses in town. No matter how much sales tax revenue it might create for our city, if they really want Antioch to improve the council needs to reject the idea.

First of all, with crime still being a problem for our community, the last thing Antioch needs is to add any kind of unnecessary burden to our understaffed police force. We’re down about 15 sworn officers from where we were promised we would be four years ago, at 111 under Measure C. Even with that many police, it will still leave us at less than one officer per 1,000 residents. Whether it’s legal or not, the criminal element surrounding the marijuana industry will still exist. We don’t want or need that in Antioch.

Also, while recreational and commercial marijuana uses are now legal in California as of Jan. 1st, as Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock has pointed out, they’re still illegal under federal law.

Second, the council has hired two different branding and marketing consultants to help make Antioch look better in the media, to help clean up the city’s public image. Approving any kind of marijuana businesses will work against that. Besides, it’s not the type of business we want to attract to our city and it could end up hurting our ability to attract better businesses and jobs. We don’t want or need Antioch to become known as the weed capital of the Delta or worse yet, the “Gourmet Ghetto of Cannabis Cuisine” as the city’s new branding consultant proposed as one of the five “Big Ideas” in their proposal.

Just as the Antioch BART Station is about to open, new upscale housing has and is being approved and can start being built on the south side of town, and the 200-acre commercial area between Slatten Ranch Shopping Center and the BART Station will soon open up with the extension of Slatten Ranch Road, Humphrey’s has a new owner and will open as a new restaurant with a new name, and downtown Rivertown is working to be revitalized, now is our time to seriously improve things in our city. But, marijuana businesses will undermine all those positive improvements.

The costs are too great, not just from a crime and financial standpoint, but they also include the negative impacts on users of marijuana and society in general. Medical marijuana is one thing. But, promoting it as a positive, commercial industry for our city is wrong and our mayor and council members need to reject it. What kind of message does it send to our young people and students? Not a good one. The other thing we don’t need is more dumbing down of our residents in light of the abysmal test scores of our public school children. Recent studies have shown the negative impacts on the brain of those who use marijuana.

No matter how positive a light the report – produced by more consultants hired by the city (Cannabis Support Services) – tries to shed on a potential cannabis industry in Antioch, with photos of smiling sales people in a retail store, the negatives are clear. At least the report included some of those: “Future federal enforcement is unclear; Lobbying effort to eliminate all cannabis specific taxes (as with alcohol or tobacco); Traditional banking access still limited – asset seizure potential limits lending; Emerging cashless sales options are not fully tested; Continued impact of the black market; Economic stability of the commercial market; Public health and safety issues – DUI, CUD, development of adolescent brain; and Available internal and/or external resources.”

Plus, just because the majority of Antioch voters supported Prop. 64, which legalized both recreational and commercial marijuana uses, it doesn’t mean they wanted to allow those uses in our city. It’s like when the Indian casinos were approved by the voters. Most didn’t expect them to locate in town. But, rather somewhere “out there” on tribal land, where it wouldn’t directly and negatively affect us.

The council must reject this idea outright and stop wasting anymore of our tax dollars on pursuing it. They need to also tell the City’s new branding consultant, who also mentioned the cannabis industry in the principal’s presentation to the council, to scratch that idea off their list. They need to send a loud and clear message that Antioch is open for good businesses, only and not the marijuana industry.

Marijuana businesses are not what anyone had in mind in any of our city’s economic development plans, ever. The council and city staff need to look in a different, more responsible direction to help bring businesses and well-paying jobs to Antioch and increase the sales and property tax revenue that our city needs.

The council’s workshop will be held at the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Park beginning at 9:00 a.m.

8 Comments to “The Payton Perspective: Antioch marijuana industry will hurt economic development, image efforts”

  1. RJB says:

    I am not for the cannabis industry to seed Antioch and become its major source of revenue for the city.

    However, “Gourmet Ghetto…” is certainly more befitting then Antioch being the next Silicon Valley. Lol.

  2. JAC says:

    You really should have performed some research regarding crime rates in the cities that sell cannabis. The truth of the matter is that crimes rates are either 1) not affected one way or the other or 2) crime rates have actually dropped.

    “”There is evidence in this table that the legalization of recreational cannabis enacted in Washington caused a decrease in crime rates. The point estimates for rape, assault, robbery, burglary and theft are all negative. This conclusion is reinforced by the statistical significance of the drop in rapes and thefts. … Our estimates reveal that the legalization decreased … both ordinary alcohol and binge alcohol. … These effects on consumption suggest that one of the mechanisms underlying the reduction in crime may be a substitution away from other drugs … such as alcohol, which makes consumers more aggressive than if consuming cannabis.”
    Crime and the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana, IZA Institute of Labor Economics Discussion paper, 2017
    “Since voters approved Initiative 502, FBI crime statistics show lower rates of violent crime in Washington than before legalization. According to the FBI data, in 2011 there were 295.6 violent offenses reported per 100,000 Washington residents. In 2015, the most recent full year of data available, that rate had fallen to 284.4 violent offenses per 100,000 people.”
    “What actually happened to violent crime after Washington legalized marijuana”, The News Tribune, July 26, 2017.””

  3. Arne says:

    I am adamantly opposed to the retail sale, manufacturing, growing or distribution of so-called “recreational marijuana” in Antioch !!

    Marijuana is illegal under Federal law and our City Council each took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States”.

    • JAC says:

      Nine states and Washington, DC have legalized cannabis for recreational consumption and there are more states that will soon follow. Trump and his administration have shown that they prefer that States regulate themselves. It just so happens that the Keebler Elf, who runs our DOJ is from a generation that still believes all of the false propaganda and rhetoric about this “drug”. I sure wish people would research subjects like this before they spout out “the evils”. There has been a ton of scientific studies and research performed the use of cannabis, the results of which clearly found that consumption of alcohol is a much more dangerous “drug” than cannabis, and yet people can buy liquor from a myriad of places in Antioch.

      • Publisher says:

        I have done my research before making my comments. I provided a link to the facts on marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as one source.
        Here it is again for you – Please read up.
        Sure, we have problems related to alcohol. Your solution is to just add more problems to our community? That’s not very wise.
        While the council can limit the number of liquor licenses that are allowed in our city and how many liquor stores we can have and where they are located, they can’t be banned altogether. Our council can, however continue the ban on any and all types of recreational marijuana businesses.
        But, this debate isn’t about the legalization of recreational marijuana use in California, as that has already passed. This is about Antioch opening its doors to the marijuana industry and the negative impacts on our economic development efforts, our people and community as a whole.
        Allen Payton, Publisher

  4. Marty Fernandez says:

    What Arne has said is 100% on target. What RJB said is also true. Antioch is looking at Cannabis to solve all its budget problems while it also claims not to be in debt to the tune of 160 Million dollars and growing rapidly. It wants to put a property assessment in excess of 400 a year on each of us to solve that problem.

    Stop spending money on ridiculous PR consultants and clean up your house before you do another thing.

    Illegal is illegal regardless. Federal law is the law of this land.

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