Escalating a feud with cities over marijuana, state lawmakers are pushing to require municipalities to lift bans on cannabis stores if voters there supported Proposition 64, the 2016 initiative that legalized sale of the drug for recreational use in California.
A bill moving through the Legislature would require those cities to permit at least one cannabis retailer for every four bars or restaurants with a liquor license or one for every 10,000 residents, whichever is fewer. Assembly Bill 1356 would mandate 2,200 new cannabis stores throughout the state, more than three times the 631 shops legally operating now, state officials estimate.
The legislation opens a second front in an ongoing battle between state officials and cities and counties over cannabis sales, a month after local governments sued the Newsom administration to challenge the legality of a rule allowing the home delivery of pot in cities that have banned marijuana shops.
Democrats behind the new proposal note that while Proposition 64 was approved by voters in 388 out of California’s 540 cities and counties, two-thirds of local governments have outlawed cannabis shops.
"It's unfortunate that the cities and the counties really haven’t fulfilled the will of the voters to provide legal access under Proposition 64," said Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), author of the measure.
The bill received a significant boost recently when 12 Democratic Assembly members voted in favor of it in a key policy committee. A panel that weighs the fiscal effect of bills is set to act on the measure on Thursday. Ting is hopeful it will get to the Assembly floor and eventually the governor’s desk.
But a large coalition of cities and counties is fighting the legislation, calling it a power play by the state that tramples on the rights of local governments to determine what businesses operate in their cities.
"I think it's ridiculous and I think it's an overreach," Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy said of the proposal. "The bill is an example of Sacramento deciding what should happen at the local level, and it's just wrong."
Burbank officials have made their city off-limits to cannabis stores, though 61% of Burbank voters supported Proposition 64.