Obstacles continue to thwart some California businesses despite voter-approved ballot measures in favor of industries, with local governments offering barriers to entry that sometimes lead to corruption allegations and, in some cases, federal charges .
On November 28, 2016, voters approved the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, commonly referred to as Prop 64, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for people over the age of 21.
Proposition 64 also established two new taxes, one levied on the crop and the other on the retail price. Proposition 64 was designed to allocate tax revenues to be spent on drug research, treatment and enforcement, marijuana health and safety grants, youth programs and environmental harm prevention. resulting from the illegal production of marijuana.
The problem is that advocates say they are prevented from doing business when they reach the local level.
California has mishandled legalization — so badly that, more than five years after voters approved the change, the black market still accounts for about two-thirds of cannabis sales. But far from the result of weak regulations, the disastrous rollout of legal marijuana stems from the authorities having too much power to decide who can produce and sell it.
The City of Los Angeles followed in Oakland’s footsteps and created a social equity program that would allow people with criminal records, related to cannabis charges, to have priority access, if you will, by asking the coveted local approval to open and operate. A process deemed flawed.
Cat Packer, the former head of Los Angeles’ cannabis regulatory department, seems to have taken the fall of a rogue IT staffer. IT controls the technical side of the application process and would therefore have control over when the application process became open.
In Adelanto, the city council approved the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis, then two members of the city council were charged with corruption related to preference in the allocation of business permits.
In the towns of Compton and Inglewood, residents are complaining about the “selective enforcement” of illegal cannabis dispensaries.
Compton prohibits dispensaries altogether, while Inglewood permits a dispensary to operate only inside a qualified nursing facility, however, the black market continues to thrive in both cities.
Compton Sheriff’s Station deputies continue to raid illegal dispensaries and provide regular updates to council on progress in closing them.
Former mayor Aja Brown found the process “unnecessary” and not “profitable” because the city saw no tangible benefit from the closures.
In Inglewood, many illegal dispensaries have been shut down under the Narcotics Department, but many continue to operate in full view of the city and its elected officials. In fact, the city held a high-profile Super Bowl concert festival in front of one.
Mayor Butts and District 4 Councilwoman Dionne Faulk attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony next to another well-known illegal dispensary in her district not too long ago.
Another known illegal dispensary was shut down by the Inglewood Police Department in Councilor Eloy Morales’ district to be leased by IPD as a “community center”. After three years of monthly payments of $2,500, the building continues to bear no markings alerting the public that the City is in control of the location.
Why wouldn’t residents be of the opinion that council members might get some sort of ‘favour/bribe’ for allowing these businesses to operate.
The tobacco industry faces similar challenges as it prepares for an upcoming ballot initiative, before voters in November asking whether the sale of flavored tobacco products should end.
Local governments continue to enact local ordinances as a preventative measure to prevent industries from doing business, despite voter approval and payment of required state taxes.
Should these industries unite in an effort to prevent local government from obstructing the will of voters?
Los Angeles-area social equity advocates lost a powerful voice last week with the passing of Donnie Anderson of the California Minority Alliance. We will miss him.