California Cities Focus on Fortifying Legal Cannabis Commerce

Up and down the state, city governments have taken steps recently to expand access to cannabis, promote cannabis social equity, and reduce the tax burden on commercial cannabis operators, demonstrating steady, if incremental, fortification of the legal cannabis economy in California. In response to SB 1186 (2022), which took effect on January 1 and prohibits local governments from banning medicinal cannabis deliveries, the City of Murrieta voted on February 20 to amend its city code to allow for medicinal cannabis delivery to patients and caregivers, and a week later, on February 27, the City of Milpitas adopted regulations to allow for medicinal cannabis delivery within the city (while still banning adult-use cannabis delivery). That same day, the City of Vista moved closer to developing a cannabis social equity program after receiving the results of a study made possible by a $75,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) Cannabis Equity Grants Program for Local Jurisdictions. Late last month, the City of Desert Hot Springs City Council voted unanimously to reduce the city’s cannabis cultivation tax by 43%, and the City of Port Hueneme considered changes to its cannabis rules to help struggling retailers. And just this week, on March 11, the City of Petaluma City Council voiced majority support for expanding retail operations in the city, with regulations anticipated by June. While incremental, these fortifications, including local ban removals and the development of social equity programs, are changes that will help the regulated market stand up against the power of the – still much larger – illicit cannabis market in California.