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California approves pot deliveries in areas banned by local government

The California Office of Administrative Law last week officially approved state regulations that allow marijuana to be delivered anywhere in the state, even in locales where cannabis is banned, including Colusa County. The regulations took effect Jan. 16, replacing the previous emergency regulations, adopted by the Bureau of Cannabis Control, California Department of Public Health, and California Department of Food and Agriculture in 2018. 

“These approved regulations are the culmination of more than two years of hard work by California’s cannabis licensing authorities,” Bureau Chief Lori Ajax said in a statement last Wednesday. “Public feedback was invaluable in helping us develop clear regulations for cannabis businesses and ensuring public safety.”

Prior to last week’s decision, lawmakers had been seeking to clarify conflicting law and regulations about where marijuana could be delivered in California. The League of California Cities opposed the delivery rule arguing that it erodes local control. 

League of California Cities Executive Director Carolyn Coleman expressed her displeasure in the Office of Administrative Law’s decision to adopt the regulations. 

“The League is disappointed with sections of the Bureau of Cannabis Control regulations that ignore the voter’s intent and the plain language of Proposition 64,” Coleman said in a statement, immediately following the OAL’s Jan. 16 decision. “Voters approved Prop. 64 with the understanding that local authority to regulate cannabis in a way that is best for their communities would be preserved.”

Law enforcement agencies have also opposed the rule, saying it creates an unruly market of largely hidden pot transactions, while undercutting control by cities and counties, and the Colusa County Board of Supervisors officially opposed the rule in a letter to the state last month. 

“Local government, labor, and law enforcement informed BCC that its proposed regulations are clearly inconsistent with Prop. 64 and the will of the voters, and it’s therefore disappointing that OAL has allowed these questionable regulations to take effect,” Coleman said. “This decision puts the public safety needs of communities across the state at risk.”

The United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council also opposed statewide deliveries. 

“Regulated marijuana dispensaries have tough security, checks for identity and legal age, and strictly licensed workers,” council Executive Director James Araby said in a statement. “If marijuana can be delivered anywhere with virtually no regulation, California will lose these safeguards.”

The Bureau of Cannabis Control has maintained that Proposition 64, which voters approved in 2016, allows for statewide deliveries, and that the rules adopted last week include explicit language authorizing the practice. 

The dispute is likely to end up in the courts or Legislature. ■

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