Medicinal Cannabis Retail Premises Remain Prohibited Throughout Most of California

More than a year after Governor Newsom signed SB 1186, the Medicinal Cannabis Patients’ Right of Access Act, and over six months after the Department of Cannabis Control announced $4 million in grants to 18 local jurisdictions under the Local Jurisdiction Retail Access Grant (LJRAG) program, sixty-percent (60%) of California’s local jurisdictions continue to prohibit cannabis retail businesses from maintaining offices or inventory within these jurisdictions’ geographic borders. Remarkably, every single one of the 18 local jurisdictions awarded grant funds under the LJRAG program continue to prohibit medicinal cannabis delivery operators from occupying physical offices and keeping inventory within these 18 local jurisdictions’ boundaries. According to a Cannabis Business Times article last October, at least two local jurisdictions (City of San Marcos and City of Brentwood) have taken the position that because they are located close to jurisdictions that allow medicinal cannabis retail businesses to maintain physical offices and keep inventory, these “outside-in” jurisdictions are not actually required to authorize medicinal cannabis retailers to maintain a physical premises or keep inventory within their geographic boundaries. This “outside-in” approach apparently rests on what can only charitably be described as a strained reading of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 26322, apparently offered by the California League of Cities in an FAQ document, suggesting that SB 1186 prohibits local jurisdictions from adopting regulations that “require the establishment of physical premises within the city.” Of course, this suggestion is at odds with not just the language of SB 1186, but also the legislative intent behind the statute, which can be enforced in litigation brought by medicinal cannabis patients or their primary caregivers, by medicinal cannabis businesses, and even the California Attorney General. With only a 1% increase in the number of local jurisdictions allowing any cannabis retail premises since I last blogged about this topic nearly 6 months ago, medicinal cannabis patients’ rights remain to be vindicated throughout most of California.