Bowing to the philosophy of “better safe than sorry” an estimated 160 California state jurisdictions have banned marijuana to varying degrees. California marijuana bans are expected to rapidly climb as March 1st grows nearer. This is the date that the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act erroneously marked as the deadline for cities and jurisdictions to draft their own regulatory systems before those powers pass on to the state. The daunting task of assembling a viable regulatory system in such a short period of time has instead found cities fast-tracking bans on marijuana and in so doing stamping out the opportunities of growers and other industry players queuing for a legitimate slice of the pie when a limited number of licenses are issued sometime in 2018. Now, due to a legislative oversight, these industry pioneers have lost their place in line so to speak.
Merced, California Marijuana Prohibition Hits Sisters of the Valley
A few weeks back, we explored the plight of the Sisters of the Valley, a duo of self-appointed “nuns” who were scheduled to meet with the Merced, California City Council in hopes of steering them away from an outright ban on medical marijuana businesses. Sister Kate started Sisters of the Valley just a year ago in which time she turned a $300.00 per day operation to a $3,000.00 per day operation. Normally, rewarding such entrepreneurial savvy is the American way but her operation entails her creating high quality medical oils and salves from California marijuana strains. What she has described as a spiritual calling has now been called into question by local government which ultimately went ahead with its ban. Despite this obvious setback, Sister Kate still sees the immense potential in the California marijuana industry. She plans to not only hold her ground in Merced but expand her operation to meet the overwhelming demand for Sisters of the Valley products which has undoubtedly skyrocketed through media coverage.
A Little Mistake with Potentially Big Impact
State lawmakers already recognized the erroneous language in the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act before the ink of their signatures was even dry. Now a bill is being pushed furiously through the system in hopes of lifting the accidental March 1st deadline. But even as the Senate approved the bill on Monday before passing it on to the Assembly, it remains to be seen how much damage has actually been done by the oversight. In the case of Merced’s CBD-oil-brewing sisters of mercy, the bill didn’t come soon enough. It’s still unclear how many California marijuana businesses were turned on their heads through a simple written oversight that was then exploited by legislative panic.
Decisions Made in the Grip of Civic Panic
Praising the bill to repeal the deadline in one breath, the League of California Cities and the California Association of Police Chiefs are using their next breath to more significantly call for cities to ban California marijuana growing and sales. While both organizations cite precaution as the reason for advising cities to safeguard civic regulation with an outright ban, their advice is being seen as a direct catalyst for what the California chapter of NORML has accurately dubbed “banapalooza.” When has inciting panic ever worked for the best?
So while jurisdictions continue to file their bans, eating away at the promise of the California marijuana industry while a bill eventually makes its way to overturning an error, one can only hope that some cities are taking into account the potential benefits of the marijuana industry in their future. While the Sisters of the Valley are admirable for standing their ground and weathering an inevitable storm, other California marijuana businesses can’t be expected to act with such courage, nor should this be expected of them. Unfortunately, the deadline built into the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act simply serves as a reminder that little errors can go a long way.