Recreational marijuana is legal in California and many people believe it is widely accessible to users. Statistics, however, show converse results. It’s been eighteen months since California voters eagerly endorsed legal pot but just one out seven cities in the state allow recreational marijuana dispensaries, according to an exclusive survey recently conducted by a news organization in association with its California-based partners.
California Proposition 64 passed in the November 2016 elections by 57%. This makes it legal for people in California to carry up to an ounce of marijuana and to cultivate up to 6 plants in their homes. But the laws that accompanied the legalization of recreational marijuana in California also gave its towns and provinces the authority to deliberate policies on what should be allowed, and when. Presently, one in three cities (144 out of 482) permit any form of operation of marijuana businesses to operate. And less than a dozen of the state’s 58 counties allow cannabis businesses in their unincorporated areas. This suggests one thing: the enthusiasm expressed when pot was fully legalized is not at par with the proliferation rate of its cannabis market – California is slow to accept Proposition 64!
With the details gathered on local marijuana policies, the study was able to provide the public with policies (which can be searched by type of business or location), and data which reveals some quite interesting patterns – conflicts of interests and inconsistencies. But one thing that was not envisaged is that leaders in several communities are not as keen on marijuana as the voters who passed Prop. 64.
It is clear that community leaders and residents in the state have diverse views and this has led to the development of different cannabis policies across the state. While some cities welcome marijuana with a big grin and open arms, granting licenses to a wide range of cannabis-related businesses, same cannot be said of several other cities and provinces. Some cities intentionally obstruct practically every type of marijuana-related venture. In some cases, these cities pass ordinances that are targeted at restricting personal use as much as possible.
Here are some of the findings of the study:
- Less than one in three (144 out of 482) cities in California permit any type of marijuana business to operate in their territories, and only 18 of the state’s 58 counties allow cannabis businesses to operate in unincorporated regions.
- Less than one in five California cities permits medical marijuana facilities to operate, although California pioneered the legalization of medical marijuana in 1996.
- Only about 57 of the 144 cities that permit marijuana businesses in their borders are levying taxes on the industry. This doesn’t mean the 87 other cities cannabis is tax-free as a state tax of 15 percent exists. Proposition 64 requires governments to get voter approval for their tax schemes but revenue has been rolling in for cities that have approved taxes: in the first 8 weeks of 2018, San Jose made nearly $2.2 million in cannabis revenue while Oakland made $2.86 million in the first three months.
- It is completely legal under state cannabis laws for adults to grow up to six marijuana plants. However, officials from two small towns in Northern California (Gridley in Butte County and Montague in Siskiyou County) prohibit that, saying the indoor or outdoor cultivation of cannabis in those jurisdictions is illegal. Selma in Fresno County takes a different angle to the situation: It allows adult residents to grow cannabis domestic but charges the state’s highest cost for a permit to do so. It charges $1,420 for the six plants.
City Laws and County Laws do Clash sometimes
Findings reveal that counties have been more welcoming of marijuana businesses than individual cities. The dichotomy, however, is most obvious when it comes to stores and farming. Over 15 percent of California counties permit recreational marijuana store to operate in unincorporated areas.
In some areas, county policies are in sharp contrast with some of the rules passed by cities within that county. Imperial County, for instance, permits all types of marijuana businesses in its unincorporated regions, mostly near the Arizona and Mexico borders. Yet most cities in Imperial County including El Centro, Calexico and Brawley (which are the biggest three) have banned cannabis and recreational dispensaries.
There are also state-licensed marijuana stores that claim addresses in Carmel and Monterey, even though both of those cities block all cannabis businesses. The shops are established in unincorporated Monterey County, which allows all types of marijuana businesses. And the same situation goes for some other cities and counties in California.