When Proposition 64 was passed, one of its “key” promises was that local authorities would have the right to decide whether to license recreational cannabis businesses within their jurisdictions or not. About 70 percent of all cities and counties have opted to ban recreational cannabis sales within their jurisdictions, and this has hampered the growth of the cannabis industry. Now some lawmakers are proposing that this tenet of Prop 64 be changed to rein in the power of local authorities on the matter. Several arguments have been presented in favor of and against this suggestion.
First, those in favor of Assembly Bill 1356, the bill which would force local authorities where a minimum of 50 percent of the voters supported Prop 64 to license some pot shops, say that the blanket ban on cannabis businesses has created room for the black market to thrive since locals have no access to legal marijuana.
Because of that black market activity, the state has been unable to regulate and tax those illegal cannabis sales. This creates public health safety issues. For example, the unregulated marijuana may have high concentrations of pesticides and other contaminants which can affect the health of consumers. The loss of tax revenue also denies the state the funds that it needs to deliver services to the people in addition to funding the regulation of the pot industry.
Proponents of AB1356 also say that by banning pot sales, local authorities are disregarding the wishes of the people in their areas. This is because there is overwhelming public support for legal marijuana.
The people who oppose the reversal of the promise in Prop 64 to let local authorities have a say in whether cannabis businesses should or shouldn’t be allowed in their areas say that this right was crucial in getting Prop 64 to pass. Reversing that promise would therefore tantamount to reneging on the principles which allayed the fears of some people and led them to support the ballot measure years ago.
Some people are also concerned about the risks associated with cannabis businesses since these businesses operate on a cash-only basis as a result of the federal status of marijuana. Marijuana is still illegal federally, so marijuana businesses cannot access banking services. This raises the risk of armed robberies and other opportunistic crimes. Local authorities should therefore reserve the right to allow or ban marijuana sales, they argue.
Canopy Rivers Inc. (TSX.V: RIV) (OTC: CNPOF) and Cannabis Strategic Ventures Inc. (OTCQB: NUGS) call on all concerned to think carefully about the future they want for the cannabis industry so that this standoff between the state regulators and the local authorities is resolved in a way that puts the will of the people at the center.
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