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California Legislature Votes to Slow Local Bans on Cannabis Cultivation

By Aaron G. Biros
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In a unanimous vote, the California Assembly passed a bill that would stop cities and counties rushing to ban cannabis cultivation and retail.

SACRAMENTO, CA- Lawmakers in California voted to pass Assembly Bill 21 this morning, a bill aimed at slowing local municipalities from placing bans on cultivating cannabis. Earlier this week, the California Senate passed the bill in an overwhelming 35 to 5 vote, sending it to the Assembly.

The bill, AB 21, won unanimously in a 65 to 0 vote this morning, according to a lobbyist on behalf of CalCann Holdings. The bill now heads to Governor Brown’s desk to sign it before it becomes a law. The governor has twelve days to sign it into law because of an urgency clause. 

“Over the past several months, local governments throughout the state have been banning marijuana cultivation and dispensaries right and left,” says Aaron Herzberg, attorney and partner at CalCann Holdings. CalCann Holdings is a California-based medical marijuana holding company building a portfolio of licensed MMJ businesses and properties.

“Assuming Governor Brown chooses to sign this bill into law, cities will have the time to take a more reasonable approach to this issue and, ideally, allow licensed marijuana to be cultivated and distributed throughout the state,” adds Herzberg. “This is a vitally important piece of legislation that fixes a serious drafting error, and the sooner it can be signed into law, the better.”

The bill fixes an important mistake in the regulations that previously allowed the state to license growers operating in municipalities without written laws in place yet by March. Because of that deadline, cities were rushing to ban growers and dispensaries before they lost autonomy to regulate them. Governor Brown is expected to sign the bill into law, which would curb municipalities from shutting down cannabis businesses. 

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  1. Jody Lehrer

    It is so important that the local governments have sufficient time to consider how to regulate locally marijuana grow facilities and dispensaries. Therefore, the proposed fix to the existing regulations that – although adopted some 20 years after passage of the law legalizing medical cannabis – would have left local governments with no an option but to ban growing and dispensing facilities was essential to the protection of patients. As the League of Cities has stated, developing “meaningful regulation takes time,” (http://www.canorml.org/news/Governor_Signs_Bill_To_End_March_1_Deadline). It seems that the many local governments who rushed to ban grows and dispensaries in order to avoid having to adopt regulations hastily may now intelligently consider regulations. In Massachusetts, many of the 351 municipalities quickly adopted temporary bans or “moratoria” on dispensaries in order to do just this (e.g., to give themselves time to ). According to graduate research that I conducted with sponsorship from Bridgewater State University on how municipalities zoned for dispensaries, some 32% of municipalities adopted temporary bans (with 68% having amended zoning provisions to allow for dispensaries). It was important for municipalities to be able to examine how to craft zoning measures relative to what is, in Massachusetts (unlike in California) still a relatively new land use. My website is jodylehrer.com.

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