Dispensaries in California Could Triple
California's budget is taking a direct hit between competing Counties and cities' cannabis legalization choices.
It can be infuriating when politicians are elected by the people but pass laws based on their own personal biases. The whole point of elections is for voters to put someone in office who represents their interests. When politicians and officials go rogue, it defeats the whole purpose of the democratic process.
Californians voted for Prop 64 because they wanted safe and legal access to marijuana products. Veterans, disabled people and young people who have suffered from childhood ailments use cannabis for medical purposes. Even these individuals are lacking the relief they require due to the limitations local jurisdictions have set in place.
Assembly Bill 1356
California has come up with a law that would give the power back to the people and protect their vote, versus leaving it to politicians who believe that they know better than their constituents. With the help of Assembly Bill 1356 proposed by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, voters can finally receive what they voted for. Ting’s office reported that despite most of Californians voting for legalized Cannabis, 76% of counties and cities in California have taken it upon themselves to prohibit retail marijuana businesses.
If this bill passes California legislators would be required to terminate bans on marijuana dispensaries in municipalities where most residents in that locality, voted in favor of Proposition 64. These cities would also be mandated to give out one permit to cannabis retailers that meet the following criteria:
- One license for every four restaurants or bars that hold a license to sell alcohol.
- One license for every 10,000 residents, whichever is fewer.
- The mandate would apply only to cities where most voters had voted in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes.
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Sacramento Would Have Over 100 Dispensaries Open for Business Under the Bill
The business of Journal’s Analysis reported that Sacramento currently has 423 alcohol licenses that are active. Sacramento currently has a 30-dispensary cap since 2014. This bill would exceed the cap and meet the demand of business owners who are interested in opening a storefront. However, there is not a limit on delivery businesses if entrepreneurs wanted to use that avenue to enter the marijuana industry.
Yolo and Sacramento county, which are unincorporated has banned the retail sales of cannabis. Residents there would directly benefit from the bill, since the vote was in favor of legalization. Placer County and El Dorado County would still ban dispensaries because their voters were against Proposition 64.
Robert Baca is the Executive Director of the Sacramento Cannabis Industry and he claims that AB 1356 could help Cannabis Suppliers who are following the law to compete with the black market. He argues that local jurisdictions have created cumbersome laws that doesn’t allow lawful entrepreneurs to thrive, thus creating an environment for a successful illicit market.
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Opposers of the bill argue that this measure violates Prop 64’s promise that local jurisdictions have the power to create their own separate laws pertaining to the commercial sale of cannabis. The League of California voiced their opposition in a letter. Their opposing points were the following:
- The bill removes local government’s ability to prohibit retail cannabis shops or limit them.
- The 1 to 4 ratios doesn’t leave it up to the locals to decide the amount of shops they would prefer in their community.
- They claim that most cities prefer to wait until California figures out how to successfully administer licenses instead of changing the rules, while the state is still trying to figure out proper implementation.
- They claim that it will bring forth more litigation which would be counterproductive.
The Financial Effects of Dispensary Bans
California’s budget is taking a direct hit, due to communities who have been resistant in allowing the marijuana industry to flourish. Gov. Newsom stated that his administration predicted that some cities and counites would be stubborn when it came to allowing retail cannabis dispensaries in their districts. When you add the fact that consumers can avoid a 50% tax in some communities by purchasing from the illicit market, the recipe for failure is obvious.
State budget documents report that California will have to decrease their revenue projection to the tune of $223 million. This is a shocking decline when you take into account that the last estimate was only four months ago. This is especially troublesome since California voters support Prop 64 with the belief that cannabis tax revenue would go toward state programs. Newsom believes that it will take five to seven years for the legal cannabis industry to grow to its full potential in the state.
Forecast of Bill
This delivery bill that allows licensed companies to deliver anywhere in California passed despite a lot of pushback. The California Bureau of Cannabis Control faced a lot of opposition from cities and counties who want to have the final say over the marijuana industry in their communities. If this bill passes, it will be a win for the cannabis industry and voters. This proves just how powerful every single vote is. If the majority of residences vote from something in a city or a county, they should get it. If the bill is not successful, local representatives of cities who ignore the will of the people may be out of a job after the next election.