Could your local town ban marijuana? Cities at cross-purposes on what kind of pot to sell and how much to tax it

Cities have already begun to regulate how and where recreational marijuana can be sold. The municipal governments can create new rules and prices, but it’s the state that holds all the cards. And the state’s leaders are not committing to any timeline for legalizing pot or any specific decisions on licenses or pricing.

It’s early in the new state regulatory process, but already thousands of community could see businesses give up their cannabis warehouses due to cities imposing new and escalating taxes on pot.

The idea is to allow businesses to operate under guidelines—such as being allowed to work indoors with no windows and making sure that their product is stored away for, say, a multi-week frost or freeze.

There is no public vote to decide these regulations. Voters do not get a say in cannabis zoning. The decisions are left to individual cities and counties in California and existing marijuana businesses in the state are waiting for a chance to stay in business.

State voters legalized recreational pot in November. Local governments have two years to create recreational marijuana zoning before federal marijuana law gets renewed in July 2020.

However, not all recreational weed stores will be permitted to open. Mayor Gavilan said it is possible for cities to block locations that do not comply with local zoning rules.

“There is not a lot of grey area. If the business goes into a strictly non-medical environment, it would be blocked by local government. That’s actually where there is more flexibility than in states that have passed the adult use legalization,” Gavilan said.

Not all cannabis businesses in California operate in legal channels already and uncertainty is one of the biggest challenges businesses face.

“A lot of cities have lawsuits pending against these businesses that they want to put out of business or punish them with fines,” the mayor said.

While local governments are left to carve out rules and regulations, the state is still working on how and where marijuana can be sold and taxed. California voters will get another chance to decide for themselves if marijuana is legal and what kind of regulations it will require when they go to the polls again in June 2020.

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