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Are California Cities Intentionally Misinterpreting Landmark Cannabis Legislation?

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As local control continues to collide with consumer access to California’s licensed cannabis market, one law will soon preempt local bans on medicinal cannabis delivery. But will jurisdictions follow through on their end? So far, actions taken by some cities indicate lawsuits are likely to unfold come 2024. Under current law governing the state’s adult-use and medical cannabis markets, cities and counties can prohibit cannabis businesses, like retail, from operating within their jurisdictions, and most of them do. As of February 2023, there were 302 cities and counties in California (or 56% of local jurisdictions) that banned all cannabis business types, according to the state’s Department of Cannabis Control. And while state law allows cannabis delivery operators to deliver to any jurisdiction within California, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Rosemary McGuire ruled in late 2020 that state law does not preempt local ordinances restricting or prohibiting such deliveries, “whether the ordinance bans all commercial deliveries, bans cannabis deliveries by non-local businesses, requires local licenses for delivery, or regulates local delivery in some other way.”


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