In the Battle to Protect Statewide Weed Delivery, Cali's Attorney General Heads to the Front Lines
The fatal flaw in Proposition 64 - California’s crippled attempt to legalize production, sale, possession, and use of cannabis by adults aged 21 and up – is in its allowance for “local control” in which every one of the state’s 482 municipalities (cities and towns) has the right to choose how much, if any, commercial cannabis activity will occur within their jurisdiction.
The result of this oversight is that even though more than 2/3rds of those municipalities voted in favor of passing Prop 64 back in 2016, today in 2019 more than 3/4ths of them have imposed de facto bans on ANY commercial cannabis activity – many of them even ignorantly banning testing labs, for fuck’s sake.
This disparity has created massive “pot deserts” where countless California adults are forced to drive a half an hour or more to get to a legal, licensed dispensary. Dispensaries are so few and far between that they immediately recognized their own power over the market and it is not uncommon for them to buy a bag of legal weed for $30 wholesale and mark it up to $80 for the retail custy… THEN you get hit with 30-40% in taxes on top of it all!
The long drives, the corporate atmospheres, the midgrade boof weed, and the homogenous menus, and the high prices have decimated the fiscal predictions for Cali’s cannabis revenues as less than 20% of the state’s cannabis consumers currently get their bud from the taxed & regulated “legal” market.
2018 and 2019 saw massive re-writes of Cali’s cannabis laws by way of amendments to the rules by state-sanctioned regulatory agencies and then by new add-on legislation, but honestly, most of it did very little to ease the burden on either the Supply or the Demand side of the market.
One announcement from the Bureau of Cannabis Control that gave a rare occasion to cheer came this past January when the agency declared that properly licensed entities had the right to deliver cannabis to qualified customers in any city or town in the state, even if that city or town had expressly banned commercial cannabis activity.
This upset the cranky old ignoramuses chairing City Councils and Planning Groups up and down the state, like in Santa Cruz County where local officials claim that they do not have the resources to vet out-of-town companies (since they cannot pinch the profits). It also upset some dispensaries who had grown quite fond of their exclusivity and weren’t interested in competition or safe access. So Santa Cruz County is taking the state to federal court for allowing out-of-town dope deliveries within their borders.
In response, a licensed Salinas-based cannabis delivery service by the name of East of Eden Cannabis Co. is taking Santa Cruz County to court after receiving a nasty threat from the county, and they just got a pretty powerful partner to join their lawsuit – the state of California itself.
California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a motion on the 14th of this month to join the suit in a high-level intervention that they realize is the only bubble gum they have to try to patch the holes in Prop 64.
Voters in Santa Cruz County came out in droves in favor of Prop 64 back in November of 2016, as the voter initiative surfed a 70% wave of support there. To be fair, the county has not banned commercial cannabis activity. In fact, they have licensed 12 storefront dispensaries and they allow all 12 the opportunity to make local deliveries. Unfortunately for them, they have made themselves the front line for this battle being fought mostly on behalf of municipalities much more conservative than their own when it comes to cannabis, and it looks like the state is ready to deploy the big guns.
The state will join East of Eden on January 2nd to argue in a Santa Cruz courtroom that the BCC was prudent in their declaration that deliveries can occur anywhere in the state. The court date for the inevitable federal case showdown will come in April of 2020 but Santa Cruz County will not be alone that time.
They will be joined by 24 additional cities (so far) including, but not limited to: Agoura Hills, Beverly Hills, Covina and Riverside.
Until then, East of Eden says they are complying with the half-baked cease and desist from Santa Cruz County that threatened to investigate the company and seize its inventory if it was discovered anywhere in county limits. Allegedly, sales are down 38% since they stopped serving Santa Cruz, a cut that costs them upwards of $1000/day in revenue, according to their lawsuit.
Attorney General Becerra argues that the state has the right to clarify its own regulations and that the declaration of statewide delivery is in line with the will of the voters who approved Prop 64.
Ironically, Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch whines, “This is a bait and switch on the part of Sacramento. Communities are the solution, not the problem, and individual communities should be able to make their own choices.”
Oh, you mean like the 57% of Californians who voted for Prop 64 thinking it would mean safe access to legal weed? They made a choice on election day three years ago and yet a vast majority of them now do not have that access because of a small handful of haters like the mayor himself.
The state - and consumers’ rights to get their weed delivered just like their pizza or their groceries - will win this fight.