'Green Rush' hype overblown in California

Submitted by: R.E. Graswich

Across California, residents may wake up Wednesday and find themselves living amid a new "green rush" -- a bounty of riches created by a flood of legalized cannabis sales.

While the rest of the world will hail California as marijuana's promised land if Prop. 64 passes on Election Day, people who actually live in the state will know another reality.

Very few California cities will provide welcome receptions for the cannabis industry if the adult-use initiative is approved by voters. In fact, cities are already scrambling to shut their doors and send the opposite message.

It's not that cities, including large metro communities like San Jose, are determined to ban marijuana. While bans are popular in many suburban cities, the legislation is more often aimed at letting local governments keep control over cannabis.

And when local governments get into the control business, they tend to skew their ordinances in conservative directions, maintaining as much authority as possible.

The local control aspect of California's marijuana legislation has been largely ignored in public and media discussions about Prop. 64. Local control introduces a layer of exception that undercuts the "green rush" narrative pushed by California cannabis supporters.

As noted before on California Marijuana Policy, home rule is the foundation of Prop. 64 and state laws affecting medical cannabis. Simply, the state will issue no licenses for marijuana businesses of any sort unless those businesses first obtain local permits.

This means that while marijuana policy is being set at the state level, the real power resides in cities and counties. And since California has 58 counties and 482 incorporated cities and towns, that means the state's cannabis policy will be written in more than 500 varieties.

For an idea of what will happen if Prop. 64 passes Tuesday, look back one year and note what happened when the State Legislature passed the first comprehensive medical marijuana laws in 19 years.

State authorities were patting themselves on the back over their progressive bipartisan workmanship and compromises. Meantime, in cities and counties more than 250 bans were suddenly being hammered into place.

The same thing will happen if Prop. 64 passes. In fact, it's already happening.

From Santa Barbara to San Bruno, cities are passing cannabis bans in anticipation of the passage of Prop. 64. Primarily, local authorities seek to prevent industrial cultivation sites from setting up, but they are also blocking retail locations, dispensaries, delivery services and manufacturers.

Most likely, a handful of cities will decide they need the tax revenue from cannabis. These communities will quickly establish themselves as cannabis friendly places. The Inland Empire has already moved in this direction.

Other cities, such as Sacramento, are advancing more slowly, working with the cannabis industry and stakeholders to create ordinances that accommodate but control marijuana cultivation, manufacture, delivery and sales.

And many places, such as the suburban East Bay towns of Danville and Walnut Creek, want nothing to do with marijuana.

Expect this pattern to continue, regardless of the "green rush" hype.