With legal marijuana on its way to California, a growing number of local communities are voting to ban any cultivation or sale of the drug.
In early November San Jose became the latest and one of the largest cities in the state to enact a total prohibition on pot sales. The decision came days before California voters legalized cannabis in the Nov. 8 election.
The passage of Proposition 64 means recreational cannabis will soon sell at retail stores throughout the Golden State, but local governments will still have the power to ban the drug – as long as residents agree.
Restrictions are already in place
Dozens of towns, cities, and counties up and down the Pacific Coast have already moved to put bans in place. Others have passed tight new restrictions that fall short of full prohibition but still make life difficult for the legal marijuana industry.
Prop. 64 gives municipalities a good deal of leeway in deciding what they will allow. But no local government will be able to prevent home grows of up to six plants per California adult.
And many communities have no plans to ban retail marijuana cultivation or sales. Some, especially in the Inland Empire and other economically distressed parts of the state, are turning to cannabis as a potential economic boost.
The ban in San Jose is temporary, and City Council members said they passed it so they would have more time to draft workable industry regulations. Along with a prohibition on commercial sales, the local rules block outdoor grows of any kind.
California will become the world’s hub of cannabis
Prop. 64 will take effect in 2018, and it will immediately make California the world’s largest market for marijuana. Observers, including many municipal lobbyists, say local communities have plenty of time to work out good regulations without passing outright bans.
“There is no need for a stampede,” said Tim Cromartie of the League of California Cities. “Some are doing it out of an over-abundance of caution.”
But not every ban is meant to be temporary. Some of the state’s most reliably Republican communities, including those in the San Joaquin Valley and other interior areas, have enacted permanent rules meant to keep marijuana out completely.
“It’s still illegal under federal law,” said Kings County Supervisor Craig Pedersen. “This is still a very conservative community.”
And some other communities haven’t made up their minds one way or the other, with temporary bans, permanent bans, and no bans all on the table. Leaders in these places say they need more time to research their options.
“I don’t think cities were given the opportunity to put regulations into place,” said Blue Lake Mayor Michelle McCall-Wallace. “It all came pretty quickly, and we didn’t have time to study the zoning issues.”
Prop. 64 legalizes cannabis for recreational use; the drug has been allowed as medicine since 1996. Under the new law, adults 21 and older will be able to buy, possess, and use up to 1 ounce of pot, and grow up to six plants at home.
The law also imposes special sales and excise taxes and imposes new regulations on marijuana in California – including the rules that allow communities like San Jose to opt out.
Let us know what you think: Will local bans like the one in San Jose make it any harder for Californians to find and buy legal marijuana? Why? Leave a comment below.