While many California cities and metro areas have been resistant to allowing cannabis shops within their borders, despite the state’s legality, a new poll shows most Golden State residents want easier access.
It’s been nearly three years since voters in California legalized recreational marijuana sales, cultivation and possession with Proposition 64. Yet fewer than 1 in 3 California cities allow marijuana businesses to set up shop and sell recreational-use marijuana, creating so-called “weed deserts” that has given black market sales a means to thrive.
Now, a recent poll by the U.C. Berkeley Institute of Government Studies, conducted for the Los Angeles Times, shows that nearly 70 percent of Californians want cities and counties to allow pot shops in their communities. Prop. 64 was passed with the support of 57 percent of voters.
As our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers know, city and state officials have been duking it out in the courts and legislative bodies for control of the legal marijuana market. State lawmakers have been trying to force cities to open their doors to marijuana businesses, noting that failure to do so goes against the will of the people.
The director of the poll said voters don’t regret passing the legal marijuana law – if anything, support has increased. But it does appear local policymakers are in tune with their constituencies.
Even so, California is quickly rising to become the largest legal marijuana market globally, on track to post $3.1 billion in licensed cannabis sales this year. Unfortunately, this has been largely eclipsed by the black market – fueled in no small part to excessive (and expensive) regulation and communities refusing to allow legal businesses to flourish.
This is a big part of the reason state tax revenue on legal cannabis sales has fallen far short of the estimated prediction – $465 million as of last fiscal year compared to the $1 billion that was estimated. But it’s not that the shops aren’t paying their fair share. In fact, taxing and government regulation adds an estimated 45 percent to the margins of a marijuana store. The original state prediction was based on the estimation that there would be as many as 6,000 marijuana retail locations in the first few years after legalization.
But as our marijuana business lawyers know, there have been a grand total of 601 brick & mortar stores and less than 275 marijuana home delivery services. City bans on the stores have contributed to the stunted growth of the legal market.
Proposition 64, championed by the governor even before he took office, gives cities the power to ban pot shops – and three-fourths of them have chosen to do just that, despite the will of their respective constituencies.
Marijuana business lawyers see that this poll, evidence of broad support, as hope the results of the survey could potentially put more pressure on local officials to consider relaxing their hard-line rules against the shops.
City councils, county commissions and mayors say the concern is that opening their doors to these shops would entice a criminal element. Some say they’re just waiting to see how it goes with those who have allowed shops on site, as Los Angeles and San Francisco have. In some jurisdictions, they’ve taken the question to local voters. Others have taken the matter of right to ban shops to court. One of those cases, pertaining to marijuana delivery services, is pending in court.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, ancillary companies, patients, doctors and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Most Californians want marijuana stores in their communities, new poll shows, Oct. 1, 2019, Los Angeles Times