Study: Just 1 in 7 California Cities Allow Marijuana Stores

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Study: Just 1 in 7 California Cities Allow Marijuana Stores

According to a newly-released study conducted by The Mercury News, just one out of every seven cities in California allow marijuana retail outlets, despite voters approving of legalization nearly a year and a half ago.

In 2016 California voters, with a 57% majority, gave approval to Proposition 64. The initiative legalized the possession and personal cultivation of marijuana, while establishing a system of licensed marijuana retail outlets. Despite the entire state passing the law, numerous cities – through ordinances passed by their city council – have establishes bans on all marijuana stores, requiring  marijuana consumers to either travel long distances to purchase the plant legally, or rely on the black market.

“Our study is the most comprehensive look to date at how the industry is taking shape”, states The Mercury News. “Some towns — among them San Jose and Oakland — are cannabis friendly, allowing a wide range of businesses to cultivate or peddle a product that residents are free to use. Other cities — including many smaller jurisdictions across the Bay Area — 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, despite the voters’ will.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • 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 unincorporated areas.
  • Fewer than one in five California cities even allow medical marijuana dispensaries, even though medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996.
  • Of the 144 cities that permit marijuana businesses in their borders, just 57 are levying taxes on the industry (which doesn’t mean cannabis in the 87 others is tax-free; there is a state tax of 15 percent). That’s largely because Proposition 64 requires governments to get voter approval for their tax schemes. But cities that have approved taxes are beginning to rake in the dough: San Jose made nearly $2.2 million in cannabis revenue in the first two months of the year, while Oakland made $2.86 million in the first quarter.
  • While state law says cities cannot completely ban adults from growing six marijuana plants, officials from two tiny Northern California towns — Gridley in Butte County and Montague in Siskiyou County — do exactly that, saying it is illegal in those jurisdictions to grow cannabis indoors or outdoors. Fresno County’s Selma is taking a different approach to the issue: It allows homegrows, but charges the state’s highest cost for a permit to do so, $1,420 for those six plants.


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The Mercury News notes that; “A couple dozen cities — places such as Moreno Valley and Davis — have passed rules to allow marijuana businesses, but have yet to fully develop the regulations, or issue permits, to let those businesses start. And only once those regulations are in place can a marijuana business apply for the needed state license.”

Even though 61 cities and nine counties have ordinances on the books that allow recreational marijuana stores, the state Bureau of Cannabis Control has licensed recreational shops in less than 40 cities and five unincorporated county areas of California.

The study concluded that “More than five dozen cities score a zero on our scale of cannabis friendliness — including, in the Bay Area, Fremont, Hercules, Colma and Campbell.”

To get a zero score on our scale, a city has to ban all marijuana businesses, block residents from growing marijuana for personal use outdoors and require them to get a permit to grow it inside their homes.

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