Californian officials are stepping into an escalating court battle surrounding cannabis home deliveries. The move comes as the state’s counties and cities are at odds with companies delivering cannabis to customers’ homes, within communities that have either banned or restricted marijuana sales.
In early November, Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra and the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) filed a motion to help bolster a suit brought by Eden Cannabis Co. against Santa Cruz County, which had banned unlicensed marijuana companies from making deliveries within the county. The county’s suit states that the California regulation directly and irreconcilably conflicts with Proposition 64, which “preserves the right of local jurisdictions to regulate commercial cannabis activity at the local level.”
Becerra, meanwhile, told the court the state has acted appropriately in determining where cannabis can be delivered and sold. He went on to argue that banning deliveries from outside companies is ‘inconsistent’ with state regulations that permit deliveries by licensed marijuana companies, anywhere within the state of California. The Santa Cruz court has set a hearing date for Jan. 2 to determine whether the state bureau can intervene in the case.
If you need legal advice regarding marijuana home deliveries for your commercial cannabis business, our Southern California marijuana business attorneys are here for you.
Delivery Rules Challenged in Fresno County Superior Court Too
Additionally, a little further north, state delivery rules are currently being challenged by a number of cities in the Fresno County Superior Court. The group argues state law sanctions each city to determine whether marijuana sales are permitted within their communities. At the beginning of the year, the BCC announced regulations allowing companies it had licensed, to make cannabis home deliveries throughout the state. There was no stipulation noting this kind of activity should be restricted within counties or cities that have banned marijuana storefronts.
Jason Hoppin, a spokesperson for Santa Cruz County, said he feels California officials are hoping to dodge the Fresno lawsuit by seeing the issue decided by the Santa Cruz County court. There, support for marijuana legalization is stronger, with 70 percent of Santa Cruz voters in favor of legal recreational marijuana use, while only 47 percent of Fresno voters share the same sentiment.
Santa Cruz County Concern Over Outside Deliveries
Currently, there are 12 licensed marijuana vendors in Santa Cruz County, and the majority can make home deliveries there. But beyond that, officials have worked to ban outside marijuana companies from delivering to homes in the area. Concern has mounted among local county officials, because out-of-town companies have not been vetted by local officials, and since these companies are not required to pay Santa Cruz County taxes, it is extremely difficult to find funding elsewhere that can cover the oversight necessary to conduct the vetting.
More Lawsuits in the Works
Just this spring, twenty-four cities – Riverside, Covina, Beverly Hills and Agoura Hills included – together with Santa Cruz County, filed a lawsuit in Fresno County, which will argue California’s cannabis delivery rules intrude upon the guarantee of local-control afforded by Proposition 64. A trial date has been set for April 20.
When Proposition 64 was approved, and legalized adult marijuana use, Californians were promised some degree of control over when, where and how local cannabis operations would take place. This may be why Proposition 64 was so well received by folks who were happy to see marijuana use legalized, but who may not have wanted pot shops popping up in their own neighborhoods.
Amid fears that marijuana stores can be magnets for robberies and other crimes, three quarters of the state’s cities have banned pot shops within their city limits. But as the demand for cannabis use continues to grow, home delivery has emerged as a ‘work around’ for pot customers who live in neighborhoods where marijuana storefronts have been banned.
Many will watch with interest to see just how the courts decide which branch has most control over whether marijuana sales (and deliveries) can take place within their boundaries: the city, the county, or the state. Because at this point, and amid the myriad of patchwork regulations currently in place, everyone seems to believe they have a leg to stand on.
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