By Lisa Krieger
Santa Cruz, the place that prides itself on hyper-local food, wine and waves, has set off the state’s first cannabis turf war, suing the state in defense of its pot shops.
The community’s retailers are being undercut by out-of-town interlopers, who drive from places like Oakland and San Francisco to deliver cannabis in their cars, the suit claims.
“Our local businesses are being undermined,” said Ryan Coonerty, chair of the Board of Supervisors of Santa Cruz County, which filed the suit last week against the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and its chief, Lori Ajax. “It’s not a level playing field.”
The state recently changed its regulations to allow licensed delivery companies to sell cannabis wherever the customers are — a fundamental shift since California welcomed legal weed sales last year under Proposition 64. The new rule circulates legal pot to every corner of the state, even communities that have blocked brick-and-mortar pot sales.
California is the only state to allow home delivery — no matter what the local laws say.
Angered, Santa Cruz and 24 other governments seek a reversal of that policy, borrowing a slogan from the Reagan Administration: Just Say No.
This seaside community has long been a pretty chill place, famed for the ease of scoring weed on the beach to the rhythm of bongos. It’s one of the state’s most coveted growing regions and is even seeking its own cannabis appellation, a protected symbol of horticultural identity.
But with passage of 2016’s Proposition 64, legalizing commercial cannabis, Santa Cruz quickly embraced regulation, becoming one of the first places in the state to adopt strict rules that governed everything from building permits and taxation to 24-hour video surveillance for shops.