During this week of budget hearings in Fall River, the topic of revenue has been discussed and debated as much as anything else with the nine-member city council.
A discussion between council member Steve Camara and Chief Financial Officer Mary Sahady pointed out how cannabis dollars has balanced the numbers.
"The point is that the cash cow of this budget is cannabis..." Camara observed.
"That's correct, in terms of local dollars received," Sahady replied.
Camara told his fellow council members, "as we progress towards making decisions we need to be reminded this is what the people voted for - to legalize marijuana."
A resolution to limit the number of locations that dispense cannabis to eight still exists. Camara doesn’t believe this is necessary.
"I know the council is reviewing and considering putting a false cap on the distribution of licenses,” he said. “I think, unless there's a problem, lets not find a solution to a problem that does not exist."
The council member said cannabis is providing the necessary revenue to replace what was lost when the Pay-As-You-Throw Program was terminated earlier in 2019.
"I encourage you to send back an opportunity for us to increase our budget through revenue that's now available to us," he asked.
The $2.3 million in lost revenue when the Pay-As-You-Throw Era ended is being replaced in part by nearly $2 million in cannabis impact fees.
The market remains wide open in this part of New England as Rhode Island lawmakers have already decided to not legalize cannabis for at least another year while New York and Connecticut refuse to legalize.
There is no law against purchasing recreational cannabis with an out-of-state ID though it is still illegal under federal law to transport the drug across state lines.