Californians Want More Adult-Use Cannabis Stores

Support for additional recreational marijuana dispensaries was found across the state, despite opposition from many towns.

According to a new poll conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Government Studies, 68 percent of Californians approve of the legalization of recreational cannabis. Sixty-three percent said they want marijuana stores to be in their own communities.

When broken down on the local level, cannabis reform is still popular across the West Coast state, even in the more conservative Inland Empire and San Bernardino counties.

Despite widespread support for legalization and the presence of dispensaries, 75 percent of the municipalities in California have banned cannabis retail stores. Moreover, 24 such municipalities have been actively seeking to ban home deliveries from businesses based elsewhere through a pending lawsuit.

Some have been eager to see how a legal marijuana market plays out in San Francisco and Los Angeles first. A few California cities have put the question on a local ballot initiative, and in more progressive places such as Malibu and Pasadena, residents have voted in favor of allowing a marijuana retail store in their town.

“It is critical that California’s local municipalities honor the will of the voters, overturn their bans, and give their constituents access to tested and regulated cannabis,” said Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA).

The 601 marijuana stores currently operating in California is a far smaller amount than the initially predicted 6,000. Sales are estimated to reach $3.1 billion this year, an amount lower than what experts had initially expected.

Taxes derived from adult-use marijuana sales were also lower. Many consumers consider taxes on marijuana purchases, which add an additional 45 percent to the overall cost, as far too onerous. The higher costs of legal cannabis has given many an incentive to continue purchasing their products from the illegal market, likely contributing to the market having fallen short of expectations so far.

Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill that would require cities to allow the opening of a store if a majority of those in that particular city voted for Prop 64 in 2016. While Ting’s bill failed this year due to opposition from local government and law enforcement, he plans to try again next year.

“Providing safe access to cannabis products helps deter crime, creates good jobs and increases tax revenue,” said Ting.

Burgeoning Marijuana Industry

Adult-use became legal in California three years ago with the public’s approval of Prop 64 by 57 percent. The law gave individuals 21 and older the right to possess up to 28.5 grams (roughly 1 ounce) of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana, as well as to cultivate six plants. The measure also allows for municipalities to decide whether to permit legal cannabis business within their limits.

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 through a ballot referendum. The program allows doctors to recommend medical cannabis for any condition or symptom. State lawmakers are now considering whether to provide the same protections to veterinarians who recommend cannabis to pets.

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