Let’s say California voters in their infinite wisdom legalized prostitution.
The ballot measure, in order to garner support gives cities and counties the ability to collect taxes on prostitution as well as have the ability to ban it within their jurisdiction.
The California Labor Department offers an online survey that shows 245 respondents from San Joaquin County were interested in securing a license to run a brothel.
The county commissions a study that determines if all 245 people were given licenses to legally pimp people it would generate anywhere from $11 million to $16 million a year selling sex. Another $7 million to $10 million could be generated from sales supporting prostitution ranging from condoms to sales of other items brothels may offer clients
San Joaquin County conducts workshops and finds out there are people who like the idea as it will create jobs, especially for young people.
Some speak up at the meetings arguing not legalizing prostitution will only assure that a black market for sex will continue to flourish.
The District Attorney weighs in saying she is in favor of ending the ban on prostitution given it costs a lot of money to prosecute it.
The county supervisors, on a split vote, direct staff to explore allowing brothels to be established in rural business parks. (Nothing, after all, says San Joaquin County is open for business as does embracing the world’s oldest profession.)
And to take the edge off the potential backlash, a supervisor suggests that the county require any brothel that’s licensed be a public benefit corporation and agree to donate a portion of their profits to a local non-profit.
You may think it makes sense as the county can control prostitution and get it off the streets. You might believe it will end or drastically reduce criminal activity connected with prostitution such as gangs coercing people to sell their bodies and the affiliated activities such as drug use and loitering that scar neighborhoods and commercial districts.
Also if enough people have legal brothels you may believe it will bring down the street price of sex therefore reducing the appeal running prostitution rings have to crime syndicates, gangs, and website operators. And as an added bonus politicians will have more money in the form of taxes to spend to buy off constituencies that keep wanting more and more government but without paying for it.
(By the way, having regulated prostitution in the State of Nevada really has reduced the sex trade in Clark County where it is prohibited, hasn’t it? Clark County is where Sin City, Las Vegas, is located.)
Or you may think that having controlled places where brothels can operate legally will simply emboldened others to sell sex on the back market by avoiding licensing and regulations as well as taxes. You might even compare it to the decision back nearly 10 years ago for cities in San Joaquin County that dropped their option to ban Safe and Sane fireworks as allowed under state law. The argument was made people were going to drive to a county that allowed Safe and Sane fireworks and bring them back here and shoot them off here anyway so community groups might as well as benefit. It was relatively mellow for a few years then illegal fireworks picked up big time thanks to Safe and Sane Fireworks giving them cover.
You might ask what in tarnation is Wyatt smoking. But this is the exact scenario and rationale unfolding in San Joaquin County when it comes to commercially growing recreational pot.
The supervisors are exploring allowing the commercial growing and sale of recreational marijuana in a controlled environment within rural business parks.
This is being pursued on the assumption it will put a huge dent in the black market, reduce crime, and raise some cash for the county.
There’s a big problem with that. Medical marijuana has been legal since 1996 in California. There have been ways to legally grow it. Yet, black markets supplying legal medical marijuana storefronts have flourished.
Can anyone on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors or in the district attorney’s office that apparently puts weight on whether it makes sense to have laws based on their cost to enforce and prosecute violators explain the illegal McMansion pot houses busted a few years back in Manteca and Lathrop that were supplying medical marijuana to Bay Area pot clinics?
Of course, these benevolent operators did everything by the book despite being illegal. After all, don’t all renters gut houses, steal electricity from PG&E and have automatic weapons laying around?
And even though they were “illegal” medical pot grows for legal medical pot clinics, why do you think they were armed to the teeth?
Unless weed becomes as plentiful as the weeds the City of Manteca grows in the median on Atherton Drive south of Airport Way, grows — legal or otherwise — will be big fat targets for ruthless criminals.
Marijuana is not going away. That’s a given.
But to introduce legal pot growing outside of Stockton — that has opted to allow a limited number of growers — in the vast rural areas of San Joaquin County regardless of your rationale is asking for it.
If something goes seriously wrong as what happened with the Mariposa land owner who was shot to death when he came upon an illegal grow on his property last week, the law can be a half hour away.