Status of State of California Marijuana Laws

As you probably know, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 94 into law.  Senate Bill 94 repealed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA).  Senate Bill 94 which is referred to as the Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MAUCRSA”) incorporates Proposition 64, the Adult use of Marijuana Act which was passed by the voters on November 8, 2016 and became effective November 9, 2016.  Is this starting to get confusing?  Let me see if I can break it down.


The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act was legislation, not a voter initiative.  MMRSA was very favorable to the cities.  Under MMRSA the rules were that you could not apply for a state license until you first obtained a city license for marijuana activities.  This gave all the power and control to the cities (and counties).  The Adult Use of Marijuana Act, on the other hand, was a voter initiative, not a law passed by the legislature.  AUMA is much more favorable to the marijuana businesses in California than was MMRSA.  AUMA does not require a city license (or county) to apply for a state license.  It only says that the state license should not be issued if it conflicts with a city law.  AUMA, however, declares marijuana activities to be of statewide significance.  This triggers the “Regional Welfare Doctrine”, a requirement of zoning that the cities (and counties) consider and make findings as to the regional impacts of their marijuana regulations.  AUMA also says, in the preamble that for the cities (and counties) to ban marijuana there must be a vote of the people within the locality. 


The important thing is that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act which is not as friendly to the cities is now the law through the new Senate Bill 94 and MMRSA, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act has been repealed.  It is a fiction to say that MMRSA and AUMA have been merged.  MMRSA has been repealed.


We are now in court suing about twenty cities over their medical marijuana regulations that do not comply with the new state laws.  What we are seeing is that many of the cities are turning to code enforcement to try to close down marijuana businesses rather than trying to close down the marijuana businesses in court.  As you probably know, I am the former City Planning Director of the City of Loma Linda, I have a background in code enforcement and I am now helping my clients with the code enforcement issues.  I am also told by some of the city attorneys that many cities are now reconsidering their bans on marijuana facilities.  In the next few months we should see more cities issuing licenses for marijuana businesses, dispensaries and cultivation.


If you want more information about the constantly changing marijuana regulations and laws, you can call my office or email me.

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