Marijuana Laws for Every City and County? Our Database Shows California Slow to Accept Prop. 64

By Staggs, Brooke; Wheeler, Ian | Pasadena Star-News, April 12, 2018 | Go to article overview

Marijuana Laws for Every City and County? Our Database Shows California Slow to Accept Prop. 64


Staggs, Brooke, Wheeler, Ian, Pasadena Star-News


First of three parts. Read Part 2 and Part 3

Fewer than one in three California cities (144 out of 482) allow any kind of cannabis business to operate in their borders. And just 18 of the state’s 58 counties permit cannabis businesses in their unincorporated areas.

Also, fewer than one in five California cities welcome medical marijuana dispensaries, while fewer than one in seven allow recreational cannabis stores, where anyone 21 and older has been able to shop for legal weed since Jan. 1.

These are some of the findings in a first-of-its-kind investigation, tracking and compiling the cannabis ordinances in all 540 city and county jurisdictions in California, a study conducted by Southern California News Group and other Digital First newspapers.

The information opens a window into how the industry is taking shape three months after California began licensing marijuana businesses and permitting the sale of recreational marijuana.

The study is needed because of a simple rule in California: While Proposition 64 (approved by 57 percent of state voters in November 2016) makes it legal for people to carry up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow it at home and consume it for pleasure, the law also gives cities and counties a strong say in how that law is implemented within their jurisdictions.

That dichotomy has led to a crazy quilt of policies across the state. Some towns are cannabis friendly, allowing a wide range of businesses related to a product that residents are free to use at their discretion. Other cities are less enthusiastic, with some blocking virtually every type of marijuana-related enterprise and, in some cases, passing ordinances that seem aimed at regulating personal use as much as possible.

Last year, to help everyone from pot consumers and would-be pot entrepreneurs to people who simply are curious about the progress of a new state law, we began gathering details on local marijuana policies. In January, we launched a database with some of that information, offering cannabis rules from about half the cities in the state. Today, we’ve upgraded that work, with rules from every city and county in California.

The information is included in our online database, where readers can search policies by location or by business type. And, based on an analysis of that data, we’ve ranked each community on our 100-point scale of marijuana friendliness.

The data reveals some interesting trends, conflicts and anomalies. It also shows that leaders in some communities are far less enthusiastic (or, in some cases, more enthusiastic) about cannabis than the residents who voted for or against Prop 64. That’s one reason the database shows city-by-city voting results, too.

Today’s story is the first in a three-part series. Next up is a story about how some city laws seem to paint cannabis as a barely-legal product, and after that will come a story about how a few cities are particularly eager to make money off the cannabis industry.

We’ll continue exploring and expanding the data so, down the road, we can offer more insights about the multi-billion-dollar world of legal cannabis in California.rn

California hasn’t gone green

rnMany people seem to think it’s a free-for-all when it comes to cannabis in California now that recreational marijuana is legal. But that’s far from the case, as many cities are setting up strict rules on what types of cannabis businesses — if any — can open in their town.

And even the numbers that seem to indicate where the cannabis industry is being welcomed can paint an overly enthusiastic picture. A couple dozen cities on the chart — places such as Moreno Valley and Davis — have passed rules to allow marijuana businesses. But that data doesn’t show how those cities have yet to fully develop the regulations, or issue permits, to let those businesses start.

That’s why even though 61 cities and nine counties have ordinances on the books that allow recreational marijuana stores, as of April 6, 2018, the state Bureau of Cannabis Control had licensed recreational shops in only 34 cities and five unincorporated county areas of California. …

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