California voters approved Proposition 64, often referred to as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, Nov. 8, 2016, which legalized the nonmedical use of marijuana but also created an interplay between the state and local jurisdictions that some may find confusing.
So, what does it all mean and what have local municipalities decided as far regulation? Here’s a breakdown of the proposition and how it works.
Proposition 64 makes it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana unless they’re on the grounds of a school, day care or youth center where children are present. Those adults can either consume the drug at home or at a business licensed for on-site consumption. A person can cultivate up to six plants at their home as long as the home is locked and the plants are not visible from a public place.
While adults 21 and older are allowed to consume the drug and grow it at home, cities get to decide regulatory aspects of marijuana businesses – whether to allow marijuana businesses, where those businesses will be located, how many businesses to allow and how much to tax those businesses on top of taxes already levied by the state.
Some cities have approved tough ordinances disallowing marijuana dispensaries, delivery services and laboratories, while others have enacted ordinances embracing them. Some cities are still deciding what they want to do.
The Temecula City Council voted, May 9, to extend an 11-year ban on commercial marijuana sales within city limits, though the city has softened when it comes to medical marijuana.
Councilmember Mike Naggar speculated that unless there was vocal opposition, the city may one day be in favor of allowing at least one medical marijuana dispensary to open eventually.
Despite opposition by council members toward commercial cannabis, the city hosted a cannabis seminar exactly six months later. During the seminar, experts in the field of cannabis talked about Proposition 64 and its impact on local municipalities.
The city of Murrieta strengthened an anti-marijuana ordinance only a few months after the passage of Proposition 64.
During a meeting, Jan. 15, 2016, the council unanimously approved an addendum to an ordinance that prohibited “the establishment and operation of marijuana cultivation, processing, delivery and dispensary activities as well as the issuance of any use permit, variance, building permit or any other entitlement, license or permit for any such activity.”
The prohibitive measure was taken in direct response to the proposition.
The city of Menifee had already approved ordinances prohibiting the medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation, but the city approved a series of amendments during a meeting, Dec. 6, in response to Proposition 64.
The amendments modified Menifee’s municipal code to disallow all marijuana dispensaries, not just those of a medical nature and to disallow smoking or consumption of marijuana in public spaces and on city-owned property.
The Wildomar City Council approved a moratorium on marijuana cultivation and commercial sales within the city, Nov. 8.
The one year extension – the last one the city is allowed to take by state law – will last through December 2018 and is intended to give the city council time to research a permanent ordinance.
During the same meeting, the council voted unanimously to approve a $37,750 Professional Services Agreement for Community Interest Polling Services with the Oakland-based Lew Edwards Group.
Councilmember Marsha Swanson and Ben Benoit both showed interest in posing questions about marijuana in the polling.
The Lake Elsinore City Council voted to allow cultivation with accessory uses in specific manufacturing zones in the city during its regular meeting, Nov. 28.
The new ordinance went into effect Dec. 28, and the city began accepting applications for possible cultivators starting Dec. 29.
Lake Elsinore Community Development Director Grant Taylor during the meeting said that dispensaries and marijuana delivery services can only function as accessories to conditionally permitted manufacturing or cultivation facilities. Standalone dispensaries and deliveries are not allowed.
Commercial marijuana in Hemet fell under the purview of the Hemet Planning Commission, which approved a zoning ordinance disallowing both commercial and medical marijuana dispensaries within the city, Feb. 21.
While cultivation of marijuana is allowed in San Jacinto, selling it in a dispensary is not.
The San Jacinto City Council decided, in carefully crafted ordinances, to allow limited commercial cultivation and processing of cannabis plants of medical use in designated light industrial zones in the northwestern portion of the city with a permit. The council approved second reading of the ordinances, June 6, after hearing dozens of residents and businessmen argue both for and against cultivation.
However, the council upheld its current ordinances to prohibit marijuana dispensaries from opening and dismissed a request to allow cannabis testing laboratories in the city during an Oct. 17 meeting.
State vs. federal law
Though marijuana is now legal in several states, it is still illegal according to federal law.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the reversal of the Obama-era Cole Memo, which basically created a policy of non-interference by the federal government on states that chose to embrace legalization.
However, Dr. Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana, the first publicly traded marijuana company, said the Sessions memo may not have as much bite as it appears to have.
“Even though there’s been a change in this Cole memo, certainly the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration, basically rely on funding from congress,” Titus said. “And here Congress still has continued to defund the Drug Enforcement Administration from any activities within legal cannabis states.”
Titus was referring to the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which became law in December 2014 and which prevents the Justice Department from spending funds for enforcement in states where cannabis has been legalized.
Titus said he believes that Sessions may have had the opposite impact than what he intended as politicians are forced to take stance on marijuana when they hadn’t had to in the past.
“Some of these actions and activities are actually helping the industry by moving the dialogue further,” he said. “Many politicians are finding that cannabis means votes.”