California Marijuana Bans Threaten Thousands of Businesses
By John Schroyer
The recent wave of local bans and moratoriums on cannabis businesses in California could have brutal repercussions for the state’s medical marijuana industry.
So far, 241 cities and counties have either approved some type of cannabis business ban or have one pending, according to the marijuana consultancy Sugarleaf Productions.That includes 20 of the state’s 58 counties and 221 of its 482 municipalities, leading some locals to dub the trend “banapalooza.” Some of the bans include well-known areas such as Napa Valley, Los Angeles County, Santa Barbara and Sonoma.
If the bans are allowed to stand – and aren’t either repealed or modified to allow the industry to move forward – it could ultimately affect “tens of thousands” of businesses, said Jacqueline McGowan, vice president of Sugarleaf.
“I would have to say everyone is affected by this, because whether or not you’re in a safe zone, you’re probably doing business with someone who isn’t,” McGowan said. “If you’re in Oakland, and you’re a licensed dispensary, you’re probably getting product… from someone who is effectively banned.
The problem started late last year after the legislature approved the Medical Marijuana Reguation and Safety Act (MMRSA), a set of laws intended to set up a statewide regulatory system for MMJ businesses.
The new laws included – accidentally, according to at least one of the bill’s authors – a deadline of March 1 for any local governments that want to approve their own sets of rules for the upcoming licensing process. As a result, local governments across the state wound up banning all types of medical cannabis businesses, from cultivation sites to dispensaries, because they didn’t want to run out of time to craft regulations before the window closed.