This month, The Associated Press reported that a coalition of 25 local governments sued the state’s bureau of cannabis control over a rule that allows home delivery even in cities that do not allow storefront sales.
Mayor John Mirisch of Beverly Hills, one of the cities that filed the lawsuit in Fresno County Superior Court, told me it’s a matter of local control.
“It was supposed to be made clear that local jurisdictions would be able to regulate cannabis,” he said. “But surprise, surprise, Sacramento’s got something else in store for us.”
Beverly Hills, he said, made the choice not to allow marijuana retail storefronts — just as it does not have smelting plants.
AnnaRae Grabstein, the chief compliance officer for the grower and distributor NorCal Cannabis, disagreed.
“I recognize that the law was written in a way to give local control over land use,” she said, “but we also think that safe and equal access is important to protect.”
NorCal Cannabis has about 500 employees working in growing operations, processing, packaging and distribution, Ms. Grabstein said, and the company has raised as much as $76 million in investment.
In order to grow that business, she said, consumers need to be able to safely access legal product. Banning delivery — which ensures that a broader range of consumers can get pot — will just send people back to the illegal market, she said. And as a result, that elusive legal marijuana tax windfall will continue to be, well, elusive.
But Ryan Coonerty, chairman of the Santa Cruz County board of supervisors, said the reality was more nuanced for many communities.
Santa Cruz County joined the lawsuit, he said, not because officials there are concerned about the ramifications of wider recreational marijuana access, but to protect established local growers and distributors from big, out-of-town companies that are just now jumping into the market.
“It’s supporting local business,” he said. “They’re an important part of our local economy and we have developed our own rules for our local needs and we want those to be respected in our community.”
Mr. Coonerty said “it’s interesting” to be grouped with jurisdictions that don’t want recreational cannabis. Nevertheless, he said, he read the passage of Proposition 64 as giving clear authority to local governments.
“I want these other communities to expand access,” he said. “But I believe it should be done above board.”