In California, adults 21 and older can consume cannabis for either medical or recreational purposes. But many potential customers are currently living in “pot deserts,” meaning areas in California that don’t allow the cultivation, manufacturing, or retail of cannabis products. As such, people living in these areas can legally consume cannabis, but they don’t have access to local dispensaries.
Some local governments have even tried to prevent consumers from ordering cannabis via delivery from neighboring counties. This effort recently took the form of a lawsuit, in which 24 local governments sought to overturn a state rule that allegedly permitted home deliveries statewide—even to areas that have banned commercial marijuana sales.
But Fresno County Superior Court Judge Rosemary McGuire dismissed the lawsuit on November 18th. In her ruling, she explained that the state rule does not command local governments to allow commercial marijuana sales and delivery, nor does it prevent local governments from enforcing ordinances that prohibit or regulate delivery. As such, the state rule and local ordinances are not in conflict.
At first glance, the ruling appears to support California’s cannabis industry and its continued growth. But the plaintiffs’ attorney pointed out that the judge’s ruling acknowledged and, therefore, upheld the local governments’ authority to regulate or prohibit delivery. As such, local governments can continue to impose regulations that are stricter than state regulations.
Legal professionals are generally of the opinion that this ruling preserves the status quo. The debate, therefore, will likely continue. According to Josh Drayton of the California Cannabis Industry Association, the state is still in the middle of a cultural shift, and future conflicts will be open to interpretation.
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The recreational cannabis industry is encumbered not just by regulations and high taxes but also by the fact that cannabis business law is brand new. Companies, cities, counties, and states are at the very beginning of a series of debates and lawsuits, and it can be difficult for business owners to make the best possible decisions without knowing exactly what the future may hold.
That said, the industry is also at the beginning of massive growth, and our attorneys at Purdy & Bailey, LLP are excited to support you as you develop a competitive business. We are here to help you adhere to local, state, and federal compliance regulations, and we can provide the insights you need to make the smartest possible business decisions.