As state Sen. Scott Weiner works to preempt local zoning laws to ease the way for more housing construction, Assemblyman Phil Ting—a fellow Bay Area Democrat—is trying to do something similar for the pot industry.
If Ting’s AB 1356 passes, it would force cities to allow one cannabis retail permit for every four liquor licenses. That is, only if more than half of the electorate in a jurisdiction voted for Prop. 64’s adult-use legalization in 2016.
For cities that already allow recreational sales, like San Jose, it won’t make much of a difference. But jurisdictions whose elected officials have banned cannabis sales despite majority support from residents—basically every other city in the South Bay, including Santa Clara County’s unincorporated areas—are in for a ride.
“Californians voted for Prop. 64 to replace the illicit market with a legal system that would grant Californians safe access to cannabis products, while also creating good jobs and significant tax revenue,” Ting said in announcing his bill. “However, these goals can only be fully realized if enough licenses are granted to meet existing demand. This bill will ensure the legal market can succeed.”
The Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance, an industry advocacy group founded by veteran lobbyist Sean Kali-Rai, enthusiastically signed on to Ting’s bill.
In a letter to Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell)—who chairs the Assembly Business and Professions Committee that’s weighing the bill today—the cannabis alliance urged him to support the legislation.
Despite California’s overwhelming support for Prop. 64, Kali-Rai wrote, some 76 percent of local governments throughout the state have banned pot sales. Despite projections that the voter initiative would allow 6,000 pot businesses to open up in the first few years after adult-use legalization, just 10 percent of that number obtained licenses.
“This is unacceptable,” Kali-Rai continued. “California has the opportunity to be on the forefront of cannabis legalization, and instead, local bans have prevented us from expanding access to patients who need it while depriving us of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue that could be generated from legal cannabis retailers.”