Numerous clients have come to our cannabis attorneys intending to set up dispensaries or grow facilities in the City of San Bernardino, or San Bernardino County, which have consistently been some of the most difficult local governments to navigate for those in the cannabis industry. Dispensaries are illegal in San Bernardino, but the local ban has not stopped many from setting up shop to sell medical marijuana anyway.
The San Bernardino ban put many dispensary and cultivation operators in a bind earlier this year, when the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) laid out priority criteria for those looking to obtain medical marijuana licenses from the state. One of the criteria for priority licensing is compliance with local law, and no dispensary operating in San Bernardino to date can meet that requirement.
But last month, a ballot measure was brought to the table to regulate dispensaries in the city, and it received enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. This Tuesday, the San Bernardino city council was forced to decide whether it would adopt the measure as written, or put it before the voters. After council members raised numerous issues with the measure, they ultimately decided that a city-backed ballot measure would be the best course forward.
It’s clear that the San Bernardino city council has finally realized something we’ve advocated all along: outright cannabis bans do not work. San Bernardino is not just losing out on potential revenue – it’s fighting a losing battle in which, by attempting to over-regulate, it’s given up its ability to sensibly regulate.
The San Bernardino city attorney will be preparing a proposed ballot measure, and the city will be conducting a poll of city residents. If you are a cannabis operator in San Bernardino or you have property you would like to use for dispensing or cultivation within the city, now is your chance to speak up and help shape the impending laws. This is a step in the right direction, and we’ll be staying tuned (and working with our clients) to see what the city comes up with.