Based in Las Vegas, Douglas french writes about the  economy and book reviews. 

No Need For Government Force Legal Pot Will Make Higher Wages

No Need For Government Force Legal Pot Will Make Higher Wages

Forget raising the minimum wage, legal pot will take care of everything. Assembly Bill 175, sponsored by Assemblyman William McCurdy II, D-Las Vegas, would raise the minimum wage by $1.25 per hour, per year, until it reaches $15 by 2022 if an employer does not offer health insurance, or $14 per hour if insurance is offered.

But McCurdy should notice what’s going on in Denver. “Colorado’s restaurant labor market is in Defcon 5 right now, because of weed facilities,” says restaurant owner Bobby Stuckey.  

Denver is rockin. Bloomberg reports, “In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked it as the best place to live in the country because of its proximity to the great outdoors, along with the tech boom, among other things. The city is particularly popular with millennials.”

So what’s Mr. Stuckey complaining about? He has plenty of hipsters to go eat in his award-winning restaurants. “Our work force is being drained by the pot industry,” he said bluntly.

Why work in a hot, high-pressure kitchen environment, when you can chill out in climate-controlled comfort and make $22 an hour with full benefits?

Legal pot has been anything but a drag, with Kate Krader writing,

Since it was legalized in 2014, cannabis tourism has been big for Colorado, generating $1.1 billion in profit in 2016 and more than $150 million in tax revenue. Although a recent study shows pot tourism was down in 2016, as more and more states have legalized it, people spent more money on weed-related purchases in and around Denver.

So, the downside is slightly lower liquor sales, as customers get their buzz from cannabis edibles and wages are being forced up.  Bummer dude.

Wolfgang Puck alum, Jennifer Jasinski points out that pastry chefs are all the rage in the pot world. “Laced candies and gummy bears are sought-after treats when they are made well, so pastry chefs and cooks can make them for three to four times the money a restaurant can pay. All this just exacerbates  an already tight work force in Denver.”

She says there’s no way for restaurants can compete for labor with their low margins. With the town booming, Denver also needs construction workers, but the marijuana business is hiring people away from construction as the industry itself needs grow facilities to be built.

“The economy here is booming, but there’s not enough construction workers to get the buildings constructed; they all want to work in grow facilities,” says Stuckey.

Besides a red-hot tourist industry and the millions of tax dollars rolling into state coffers, the other upside is, surprise, “More hungry customers,” observed restaurateur Bryan Dayton.

And some of these pot folks are pretty sophisticated.  “If you’re into the differences between strains of weed, like Kush or Pineapple Express, or Incredible Hulk, then I have some old bottles of nebiollo that I want to taste you on.”

Although Nevada voters legalized recreational pot in November, the process to put the law into effect is gummed up in regulatory bureaucracy. But, State Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, and Assemblyman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, have introduced Senate Bill 302 that would  allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana to non-cardholders, as long as they are 21 or older. The goal, say Segerblom and Yeager, is “to stamp out the black market [good luck with that] and allow the state to begin collecting tax revenue from recreational marijuana.”

I can feel wages getting higher already.

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