California’s Top 10 Biggest Cities Weigh In On Weed
Once it is up and running, California’s recreational and medical marijuana marketplace will likely be the largest of its kind in the world. Analysts at the Arcview Group and BDS Analytics anticipate sales of $5.7 billion in the Golden State by 2021 — far in excess of any other state or country with legal sales.
The market, too, will be extremely complex. While the state of California offers a general regulatory framework, individual municipalities make their own rules, which includes the option to ban dispensaries, both medical and recreational. And in California, plenty of towns and cities for now, at least, are saying no-go for marijuana sales of any sort within their boundaries (boo, hiss).
Meanwhile, of course, a lot of California municipalities are welcoming cannabis with smoking hot embraces.
We can’t detail the regulations in every California city, but we can look at 10 of the state’s largest municipalities.
1. Los Angeles
A pot-supportive City Council vote this month means Los Angeles is poised to become the biggest city in the nation with legalized recreational marijuana.
While it is unlikely consumers will be able to buy pot in recreational shops on January 1, the city is moving with haste towards permitting businesses seeking dispensary status. The suite of new rules determines where pot shops would be legal, with residential neighborhoods being off-limits. In addition, the city established buffer zones around schools, libraries and parks.
A combination of population and zoning ratios determines the number of permissible shops within city limits; it appears 390 dispensaries, 520 cannabis manufacturers and 336 growers could receive city licenses. That’s a lot of weed biz in one city — way to go, LA.
2. San Diego
California’s most southern large city is close to be set for Jan. 1 recreational sales — if not January 1, then soon after. For now, 17 businesses within the city have licenses for medical marijuana, and 12 shops are open. The city plan is to grant permission to these license-holders to sell to recreational consumers. San Diego has been forward-thinking about marijuana, with new city rules surrounding things like cultivation, testing, manufacturing and supply chain. The number of pot shops is expected to grow during the course of 2018, which pleases the 10 bazillion fish taco spots in the city. Munchies are made for fish tacos.
3. San Francisco
We think it goes without saying that recreational marijuana shops will be legal in San Francisco, but getting from general support to the regulatory nitty-gritty has not been seamless — San Franciscans and detailed regulations are awfully intimate. However last month San Francisco supervisors finally gave the OK to rules that will determine where cannabis businesses can be located. In short, pot shops must have at least 600 feet between them and schools. Beginning in January, the 40 medical cannabis shops with city licenses will be able to sell recreational weed on January 6, assuming they fulfill local and state regulations. The Summer of Love city is on its way — maybe the summer of 2018 will serve as Love Summer Reprise.
Votes by the Oakland City Council last month will let the city grant recreational licenses, with new regulations and taxation rules in place. The move aims to speed up potential roadblocks within city departments tasked with overseeing cannabis manufacturing, cultivation and sales. With the new regulations in place, Oakland is on course for recreational sales in January, although it is unclear if consumers will be able to enjoy recreational shopping on the first day of the year. You’re crushing it, Oakland.
5. San Jose
Things are moving along swimmingly in San Jose, with the potential for Jan. 1 sales. Last month the City Council agreed to let 16 medical marijuana dispensaries pivot to recreational sales on the first day of 2018. As it stands now, only shops in the city with medical licenses will be able to transform into recreational stores. We think technology innovation (among many other things) and cannabis are made for each other — good thing San Jose pols agree.
As in San Jose, the city of Sacramento could have recreational marijuana dispensaries with open doors on Jan. 1 of 2018, thanks to a vote last month by the Sacramento City Council. The approach is similar to that taken in other California cities — in Sacramento, businesses with existing medical marijuana licenses can apply for permits to sell recreational weed. Sacramento, too, is permitting “delivery dispensaries,” which are mobile dispensaries. The state capital seems pretty progressive about pot at this point. Maybe the growth of rec shops will help give our statewide pols even more enlightenment.
Politicians in Fresno are not slap-happy about marijuana. The city doesn’t allow medical dispensaries now, and isn’t letting recreational shops open, either. The only glint of cannabis enlightenment happened last month, when the City Council prevented a measure that would have made it difficult for home growers to cultivate their own cannabis for personal use. Yay, Fresno politicians — thanks for preventing sought-after rules that would have somehow made weed even less welcome in your city. More weed in Fresno would probably be a good idea — people gotta chill.
8. Long Beach
The first medical shops in Long Beach are just now receiving licenses to operate in the city — last November Long Beach citizens voted to repeal a ban on medical shops. Now, the city is planning to allow recreational shops as well, but they won’t begin opening on January; look for them later in 2018.
We are sorry, fine people of Bakersfield and weed enthusiasts passing through. Last month the City Council voted to ban all commercial marijuana activity in the city. Previous rules in the city banned medical dispensaries, but the new regulations are more sweeping and aimed at stopping recreational shops, cultivators and manufacturers from gaining footholds within the city.
Anaheim will not be a magic kingdom for lovers of the magic plant — no marijuana shops, cultivators, manufacturers or distributors will gain legal status within city limits. Anaheim has been anti-pot for years. The city banned medical dispensaries in 2007, and fought a 2011 lawsuit brought against it by medical-marijuana patients. The city won. There’s nada the local politicians can do about banning marijuana use — it is simply legal under statewide law, which supersedes any local regulation — and they can’t ban home grows, either. But Anaheim politicians did ban marijuana plants from front yards. We think gorgeous stalks of Grape Ape heavy with purple buds would improve any front yard, but we don’t write the rules in Anaheim.