California Legalizes, Cue the Local Bans

California cannabis lawyers
California is going to have a patchwork of local cannabis bans and regulations

We’ve blogged previously about California cities and counties enacting bans on medical marijuana activities following the passing of the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA). So after Proposition 64 passed on November 8th, legalizing recreational cannabis in California and creating a statewide system for licensing new recreational cannabis businesses, it wasn’t long before new cannabis bans were enacted. In fact, some localities passed ordinances prohibiting various recreational cannabis activities before the vote even took place, in anticipation of Prop 64 passing.

Though the state is not required to begin issuing recreational cannabis licenses until January 1, 2018, Prop 64 immediately allows California residents to cultivate up to six marijuana plants for personal use. In response, several localities have instituted bans on outdoor cannabis cultivation. Though they aren’t able to ban personal cultivation indoors, note that they can (and some already do) regulate these activities. Also keep in mind that under Prop 64 if you rent instead of own, your landlord still has the right to prohibit cannabis use on its property.

The City of Sonoma was one of the localities to approve a temporary ban on outdoor cannabis cultivation, reinforcing its ban on outdoor cultivation for medical marijuana. The Sonoma City Attorney stated that without the cannabis ban, there was worry that any residents who began cultivating marijuana immediately after Prop 64 passed would have “vested, grandfathered” rights to continue growing. Other California cities banning outdoor cannabis cultivation include Palo Alto, Martinez, and Antioch.

Other areas have gone further than just banning outdoor cultivation and enacted bans on all recreational cannabis activities. The City of San Jose is the third-largest city in the state based on population, and it approved a temporary ban on recreational cannabis businesses just one week before Prop 64 was passed. The move extends the city’s existing ban on outdoor grows to both medical and recreational cannabis businesses. In addition, the city has prohibited commercial cultivation, processing, manufacturing, distributing, testing and sales of recreational cannabis.

The City of Berkeley also approved a temporary ban which mandates that recreational cannabis businesses wait for the city to create cannabis regulations and licensing processes before they begin operating. Though some localities put temporary bans in place to buy themselves time to draft ordinances before permitting new cannabis businesses, others, like Kings County, plan for their cannabisprohibitions to remain permanent. Other California localities currently banning all recreational cannabis activities include Santa Barbara, DavisSan Bruno and Foster City.

Several cities in San Diego County also passed bans, both temporary and permanent, on recreational cannabis activities. In contrast, voters in the City of San Diego approved Measure N, allowing the city to create a local tax of up to 15 percent on recreational marijuana sales. A few other cities had local tax initiatives for recreational cannabis businesses on the November ballot in advance of permitting.

Though new taxes are seldom welcome by business owners, these tax measures signify for those hoping to set up and begin operating a recreational cannabis business that they may not have too long to wait. Furthermore, the potential for local tax revenue has incentivized many California cities and counties to allow cannabis businesses and is a good starting point if you decide to approach your local government. Many of the bans are temporary and others can be changed, so if you are interested in starting your own California cannabis business, now is the time for you to step up and help educate local authorities about what their local recreational cannabis industry should look like. For our part, our California cannabis lawyers will continue to keep you updated on here regarding the patchwork of local bans and regulations.