Kendrick Lamar hails from a long list of Compton rap progenies—a list that includes the likes of Eazy-E, The Game, and Dr. Dre, whom he collaborated with for a song on his debut album called The Recipe. The two Compton rappers boast about the recipe of why everyone loves the city they call home. “They come for women, weed and weather,” the pair raps.
Indeed Compton, California has a long association with cannabis and they can thank Dr. Dre for that (his inaugural album was called The Chronic, after all). Even now, rappers will brag that Compton has the best weed. So you think the city, with the booming green rush and California legalizing recreational marijuana sales, would want to cash in, right?
Except that hasn’t happened at all. Technically speaking, you still can’t purchase marijuana legally in Compton. That’s because Compton voters overwhelmingly voted against proposals to allow recreational and medicinal sales within the city.
To some outsiders, it might be a surprise that Compton would close the doors on pot sales and the tax revenue they bring. But after decades of black Americans being cast as the face of the underground pot market, Compton and other Southern California cities with large African American populations have opted against legalizing the pot trade, worried about the effects on the community and the message it sends.
One city official described the voter decision the “healthiest and most forward-looking for our community.” Part of the problem revolves around the ongoing banking issue with legal cannabis sales. In short, federal banks will not accept cash produced from cannabis sales, which has forced the cannabis industry to remain an all-cash business, leading states like California to consider establishing its own banking system.
But the problem isn’t changing anytime soon. As a result, Compton estimates legal marijuana would cost $6 million to hire staff for necessary paperwork and increase law enforcement, fearing the all-cash businesses could be subject to robberies or worse.
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Both potential measures to establish taxes and infrastructure for a Compton cannabis industry failed to pass by a 3-1 margin in a special election last month, thanks to grassroots local opposition. The city and its citizens have decided “the drawbacks outweighed any potential tax benefits the city would’ve collected.”
“They want to be the All-American Compton,”Marijuana licensing attorney Dermot Givens told the LA Times, but “Everybody in the world knows that if you go to Compton there are gangs and weed. True or not true. That’s the image.”
He also added, “Compton should want to capture the marijuana market and brand it just like the wines and champagne. Claim it. We got the best weed in the world. They would make a fortune. Like cognac.”