Why is Cannabis an Essential Business?
In many states that have regulated cannabis those businesses have been deemed critical or essential and are allowed to remain open. Sometimes there is a claim that it's because people need to get their medicine. Our theory is that is just due to the vice taxes.
Let's take a macro look at this, specifically our neighbourhood (Ballard) in our city (Seattle, USA)
Lost Tax Revenue
Our street, four small blocks has over 25 bars/resturants and at least as many little boutiqe shops. All of the bars/resturants are closed save one -- which is reduced hours and naturally reduced sales -- there are very few people out buying anyway.
The bars additionally have alcohol taxes that are lost. Then venues on the street, no shows, no ticket revenue, no booze revenue. No tourists, no visitors -- none of these usual revenue streams.
This is easly a loss of $10,000 per day of tax revenues - in our small four blocks, counting just the food-service. Let's not forget about all the little small business boutique type shops, or the gym, or the yoga studio, or book store or record store. If we merged in the next few blocks of our neighbourhood core we can get to a low-ball estimate of $100,000/day of tax revenues -- which are gone. Don't have an exact number, but it's a non-trivial amount.
It's rotten that sales taxes are down but we've also got thousands of folks (in just are small area) out of work. All that payroll revenue the government gets? Gone. This more than just general fund, in Washington for example the Employment Security Department is closely linked with the payroll tax revenue. There is going to be some interesting budget problems coming up.
Follow the Money
We believe that there are demonstrated medical benifits with cannabis and that it can be a medicine. Naturally we're excited about the still-early stages of the cannabis industry and welcome this allowance.
Yet, our opinion is that the true reason behind the grant "essential business" is the hundreds of millions of government revenue collected through these tax dollars. We're a "vice" type industry, like alcohol or tobacco but cannabis, across the USA, has a much higher tax rate. It's all about the ratio here: more tax revenue per dollar spent from a self-selected narrow group of consumers & businesses.
The powers that be keep us around just for revenue.