On November 8, 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64. Never before has a state ballot initiative had the opportunity to have such a substantial national impact with one vote. The country can now watch and learn from the world’s most profitable cannabis market.
The initiative, also known as The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), paves the way for non-medical recreational cannabis use across the state. The passage of this pivotal initiative not only grants rights to individual consumers of cannabis, but also rewrites the criminal code by turning cannabis felonies into misdemeanors, and giving prior cannabis offenders an avenue for reducing their charges.
In short, the three main goals of the act are to: Allow adults 21 years and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to six plants for personal use; regulate and tax the production, manufacture, and sale of cannabis for adult use; and rewrite criminal penalties so as to reduce the most common cannabis felonies to misdemeanors and allow prior offenders to petition for reduced charges. California NORML has published an excellent guide to help break down what is legal and illegal for cannabis users, as of November 9.
“There are billions of dollars in potential cannabis tax revenue now made possible by Prop 64 and the cities of San Diego and La Mesa are examples of where our industry is heading.”
The more far-reaching and influential effect of this proposition rests in its ability to regulate the highly profitable potential of the marijuana market. There are billions of dollars in potential cannabis tax revenue now made possible by Prop 64 and the cities of San Diego and La Mesa are examples of where our industry is heading. San Diego County had three ballot initiates concerning the cannabis industry.
- City of San Diego – Measure N
The City of San Diego voted in favor of establishing local gross receipts on non-medical cannabis, which is initially set at five percent and increases to eight percent on July 1, 2019. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego leaders have indicated that they will allow the sale of recreational marijuana, most likely starting with the city’s currently medical cannabis licenses stores.
- City of La Mesa – Measure U
Measure U, a citizen sponsored initiative to regulate medical cannabis dispensaries, commercial cultivation and manufacturing passed by 51.95 percent. Businesses will have to obtain a Conditional Use Permit and are restricted to certain zones within the City. La Mesa is the first city within the county to pass such an initiative. La Mesa has the opportunity to be on the leading edge of regulating medical commercial cannabis activities.
- City of Lemon Grove – Measure V
Lemon Grove rejected a proposal to allow medical cannabis dispensaries in the city. However, the vote was incredibly close with 49.56 percent of voters in favor of the measure.
San Diego County is also taking steps to decide how to regulate cannabis activity. Sadly, in early October, the County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to oppose Prop 64. Additionally, this past spring, the Board enacted a moratorium to prohibit new medical cannabis facilities in unincorporated parts of the county. The county is currently considering how they want to amend the land use regulations to create tighter restrictions on where dispensaries and cultivators can operate. However, in a very surprising turn of events, the San Diego Planning Commission met on November 4 and rejected many of the incredibly restrictive suggestions.
In the months and years ahead, we must work together to get California cities and counties to roll back their bans on both medical and recreational commercial activity. Both MCRSA and AUMA grant a tremendous amount of power to local governments who can ultimately still ban our access. Furthermore, as the world’s sixth largest economy, we are now in the position to influence and continue the fight for federal and financial recognition of the industry, and fight we will.