On November 8, Californians will vote on Proposition 64, a ballot measure that would make recreational marijuana use legal within their state. California was the first state to vote on marijuana legalization back in 1972, and residents in the state last had a shot to legalize recreational marijuana use in 2010. Unlike the failed 2010 campaign, polling suggests that Proposition 64 will pass. Proposition 64 would allow people age 21 or older to use, transport, and cultivate marijuana, and it would require recreational marijuana shops to acquire a license before they are able to sell their products.
In the past few weeks, several California cities have preemptively passed legislation that would limit the impact of Proposition 64 if it passes. San Jose, Berkeley, and Palo Alto have adopted ordinances to provide time to evaluate how they want to regulate the recreational marijuana industry, especially with regard to cultivation and licensure of marijuana establishments.
On November 1, the San Jose City Council approved a temporary ban on recreation marijuana sales, just a week before Prop. 64 will appear on the ballot. City leaders have stated that the purpose of this ban is to stop marijuana establishments from opening until they can craft legislation they feel can properly regulate “pot shops”. If Prop. 64 passes, the city wants some control over the number of dispensaries and the licensing process. Look for more discussions from the city council on this issue if Prop. 64 becomes law.
Last month, the Berkeley City Council approved upon first reading an ordinance stating that recreational marijuana businesses cannot begin to sell to the public until the city has laid out specific regulations for the licensing process. Like San Jose, Berkeley City officials are giving themselves time to formulate legislation to regulate the marijuana industry within their community. Unlike many other cities within California, Berkeley city officials believe that it will not take long to implement these regulations and that the standards for recreational marijuana dispensaries will not differ significantly from the standards in place for medical marijuana shops.
Similarly to both San Jose and Berkeley, the Palo Alto City Council recently approved an ordinance by a vote of 7-1 to ban outdoor cultivation of marijuana. The ordinance will not go into effect until 10 days after the election, providing a short period of time in which outdoor marijuana growth will be allowed (presuming voters approve Prop. 64). City officials have stated that they wanted to address the issue of outdoor marijuana cultivation while also allowing for time to collect feedback from the community. City officials have also stated that it is likely that they would not begin issuing licenses for marijuana dispensaries until January 2018.
More than a dozen additional localities in California have introduced or considered legislation to temporarily prohibit the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana within their city limits. The table below explains the details of proposals in many of these cities. (Note that this list is not intended to capture every California municipality considering Proposition 64 related measures.)
Many of the city officials within these municipalities share a similar sentiment that additional time will be necessary to implement legislation to regulate the recreational marijuana industry. If Proposition 64 passes on November 8, expect city officials across California to begin the process of implementing the new law and regulating this nascent industry.
Additional Information (City Government Source, If Available; If Not, News Coverage)
On October 18th, the City Council passed on first reading an ordinance mandating that recreational cannabis businesses cannot operate until the city has laid out specific regulations for the licensing process. The City Council unanimously approved the ordinance upon 2nd reading on November 1st.
City already has a ban on medical marijuana. On October 17th the City Council discussed an interim urgency ordinance to regulate the "cultivation and prohibiting the manufacture, processing, laboratory, testing, labeling, storing, wholesale, and retail distribution of nonmedical marijuana."