Clovis officials have said that every community should be able to decide how to handle the legalization of recreational marijuana in California.
Without that, “there is no dispute,” Fresno Superior Court Judge Rosemary McGuire wrote in a tentative ruling.
Who Is Oversees Marijuana?
The battle between the state and 25 of its local governments raises a foundational question in the legal marijuana economy: Who is in charge, the state bureaucracy that oversees the marketplace, or local governments where pot is grown and sold?
The local governments filed the lawsuit in April 2019, asking the court to invalidate the home-delivery rule that “permits commercial cannabis deliveries to any physical address in the state.”
The League of California Cities and police chiefs had complained that unrestricted home deliveries would create a chaotic market of largely hidden pot transactions while undercutting local control guaranteed in the 2016 law that broadly legalized marijuana sales in the state.
Marijuana companies and consumers had pushed for home deliveries because vast stretches of the state have banned commercial pot activity or not set up rules to allow legal sales, creating what’s been called cannabis “deserts.” Residents in those areas are effectively cut off from legal marijuana purchases.
Next Cour Hearing Isn’t Until November
Nothing will be decided soon. The next hearing in the case was scheduled for mid-November.
In court papers, state attorneys had argued the case was hypothetical, and thus not appropriate for resolution by the court. They pointed out some cities either do not have a local ordinance regarding deliveries, or do not ban deliveries.
“This Court would be required to make substantial assumptions about events which may, or may not, occur at some future point,” the state argued.
That argument was largely echoed in the judge’s tentative order. She wrote that cities “must submit evidence to show that they have an ordinance in place which is contrary to” the state regulation. Those that cannot will be dismissed from the case, she said.
Because pot remains illegal on the federal level, it cannot be sent through the U.S. Postal Service. But people can get it delivered to their door in California. Under state rules, all cannabis deliveries must be performed by employees of a licensed company.
There are about 400 active licenses to deliver pot.
In addition to Clovis, plaintiffs include the cities of Agoura Hills, Angels Camp, Arcadia, Atwater, Beverly Hills, Ceres, Covina, Dixon, Downey, and Riverside. Also participating are McFarland, Newman, Oakdale, Palmdale, Patterson, Riverbank, San Pablo, Sonora, Tehachapi, Temecula, Tracy, Turlock, Vacaville, and Santa Cruz County.
(GV Wire contributed to this article.)