Marijuana delivery in Los Angeles and other cities in California may have just gotten a little more complicated. Twenty-four California cities and one county have been suing the state to strike down a law that allows cannabis retailers to deliver goods to citizens in their own communities without local permits.
The lawsuit filed Friday in Fresno County Superior Court highlights a rift over a January 2019 rule by the Bureau of Cannabis Control that cleared the way for accredited cannabis organizations to make home deliveries anywhere in the state, bypassing cities that wanted to govern them. Marijuana delivery in Los Angeles and all other cities in California is currently legal.
“Every community needs to be in a position to decide on their own how they decided to deal with the legalization of marijuana,” Clovis Police Chief Matt Basgall stated in a news release announcing the lawsuit.
The cities argue that rule conflicts with another provision in state law that gives them control over how marijuana businesses operate within city borders. They want marijuana retail companies to obtain local permits before selling products.
“By discounting local authorities’ reasonable regulatory authority on cannabis deliveries, the BCC has imposed a standardised method of cannabis regulation,” said Carolyn Coleman, executive director of the League of California Cities.
Advocates for the marijuana industry said they expected the suit and argued it would cause Californians to keep on purchasing cannabis from black-market traders rather than state-regulated companies.
They’re also preparing to lobby against a bill by Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, which would reverse the regulation permitting statewide cannabis delivery solutions.
“The real threats to public safety are the unlicensed, unregulated, untaxed services which don’t care if there is a shipping prohibit or not,” said Max Mikalonis, a lobbyist at K Street Consulting in Sacramento. “If you ban legal delivery and the lawsuit succeeds, then you’re shutting out the legal market.”
Californians in 2016 voted to legalize retail marijuana earnings. The initiative gave local authorities power to grant permits, and some cities have chosen to restrict cannabis sales.
The Sacramento Bee last year discovered that residents in 40% of the nation needed to drive 60 miles or even more to achieve a licensed cannabis retailer.
“It is not fair that we are going to punish people that don’t have the capacity to drive up to 100 miles to get to the nearest dispensary,” said Jackie McGowan, that works with Mikalonis.
The Bureau of Cannabis Control developed the delivery regulation over a couple of decades, accepting public opinion from either side.
“The people spoke loud and clear in favor of statewide shipping,” cannabis agency spokesman Alex Traverso said in a statement at the time.
Santa Cruz County is suing the state over the rule along with the following cities: Clovis, Ceres, Newman, Oakdale, Patterson, Riverbank, Turlock, Atwater, Sonora, Tracy, Angels Camp, Dixon, Vacaville, Agoura Hills, Arcadia, Beverly Hills, Covina, Downey, McFarland, Palmdale, Riverside, San Pablo, Tehachapi and Temecula.
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