In 2016, Prop 64 passed in California with 57% of voters voting in favor of making it the new law of the land when it comes to the adult recreational use of cannabis. Now, two years later, only about 25% of the state’s cities and counties allow legal, permitted retail cannabis storefronts leaving thousands and thousands of Californians stranded in what have been dubbed “pot deserts”.
No, not pot desserts. We prefer Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip if anyone is wondering, but no, we are talking deserts, as in no relief in sight.
This despite the fact that California is undeniably recognized as the largest cannabis market in the U.S., and therefore likely the world.
One of the many problems woven into the tattered fabric of Prop 64 is how much power it gives to local municipalities and podunk city councils staffed by anti-cannabis conservatives and confused senior citizens.
Take San Diego, for example.
Since Prop 215 passed in California in 1996, establishing the country’s first framework of major medical marijuana laws, the city of San Diego has been fighting to the full extent of its power to keep legal weed out of the Whale’s Vagina.
For over two decades the city and county of San Diego have wasted untold amounts of resources and ignored countless actual hard crimes and investigations in their pursuit of a harmless plant.
A resource-intense investigation initiated in August of 2017 has since led to over 34 arrests related to 11 illegal cannabis delivery services in San Diego alone claiming that they seized over $60k in cash and over 230 pounds of product. The city made headlines again just last week when they nabbed two more people and shut down LeafLife Delivery, seizing 50 pounds of weed, $3,500 in cash, and kidnapping two children into the Child Protective Services program.
Just to the north, Los Angeles officials announced in September that in the past nine months, they have taken down 101 illegal delivery services.
In July, the Bureau of Cannabis Control released proposed amendment changes to the controversial Prop 64 that included language that would allow legal, licensed cannabis delivery services to access ALL parts of the state without fear of undue harassment by law enforcement.
This amendment would strip cities like San Diego and Los Angeles, and so many others, of a significant portion of their power to perpetuate the prohibition of pot.
But, there’s a problem.
The language in the proposed BCC amendment reads:
§ 5414. Non-Storefront Retailer (a) A non-storefront retailer licensee shall be authorized to conduct retail cannabis sales exclusively by delivery as defined in Business and Professions Code section 26001(p).
(b) A complete application for a non-storefront retailer license shall include all the information required in an application for a retailer license.
(c) A Non-Storefront Retailer licensee shall comply with all the requirements applicable to retailer licensees, except for those provisions related to public access to the licensed premises and the retail area.
(d) The licensed premises of a non-storefront retailer licensee shall be closed to the public.
Authority: Section 26013, Business and Professions Code. Reference: Sections 26012 and 26070, Business and Professions Code.
The document is actually 136 pages long, and goes into great detail about how a legal cannabis delivery service should operate, but it leaves absolutely zero room for (mis)interpretation by pot-hating local politicians by clearly stating, “A delivery employee may deliver to any jurisdiction within the State of California.”
You’ll notice the words “license” & "licensee" are used repeatedly in that excerpt - that's the problem.
Cities like San Diego, and Los Angeles, and so many others have been unrealistically tight-fisted in the permitting process to allow legal cannabis stores, or delivery services, to exist. This bottleneck in Prop 64 has led to the state extending, and re-extending temporary licenses for hundreds of cannabis companies trying to establish a foothold in the soon-to-boom cannabis industry, but only fuels the looming uncertainty of it all.
San Diego has a small handful of legal, licensed retail cannabis dispensaries open, but they still have not granted even one permit for a non-storefront delivery-only service.
The entire situation is inflamed by internal strife in the cannabis community as the legal, licensed companies are growing more and more frustrated by stiff competition from a black market that is thriving despite the state’s efforts to “legalize” the plant.
If the Bureau is truly interested in cracking down on the black market, the most effective way to do so is to streamline the process to allow those who want to operate a legal, tax-paying business to be able to do so.
The biggest opponent to this logical approach is law enforcement.
They claim that it will make our communities less safe, but the fact of the matter is that there are far more regulations surrounding cannabis deliveries than there are surrounding use of force by cops, for example.
The truth is that cannabis busts are an easy day at the office for a cop. Almost always non-violent, usually cooperative, and if it’s your lucky day they might just have a houseful of assets that you can seize to fund the next Policeman’s Ball or Call of Duty style tactical gear.
It is a dangerous time to be delivering cannabis in California but hopefully better days are on the way to your doorstep soon.