US (CA): San Diego growers face steep challenges in entering the market

This fall, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is expected to finalize an ordinance that allows cannabis retail sales, manufacturing and cultivation in the unincorporated areas of the county.

For those thinking, “Wait, isn’t cannabis legal in California? Isn’t this already allowed?” The answers are “yes” and “it depends.” A provision in Proposition 64 — which in 2016 legalized cannabis cultivation, sales and consumption for adults in California — allows for individual municipalities, like counties and cities, to retain local control. In this case, local control means localities can levy their own taxes, as well as ban any part of the legal cannabis industry from operating within their jurisdictions.

Opponents of local control feel that limiting access to legal cannabis operations is anti-democratic, seeing how the people of California already voted “yes” on the question of weed back in 2016. They also claim, with a lot of strong evidence to back it up, that reduced access bolsters the state’s unlicensed market. This includes illegal grow operations, which drain natural resources, invite organized crime into communities and create environmental hazards, often through the use of illegal and highly toxic pesticides that linger long after the grows are either busted or run their course, whichever happens first.

The task of busting up an illegal grow falls on various law enforcement agencies, but some aren’t getting the benefit of tax revenue from legal cannabis. The unincorporated areas of San Diego County are where most of the region’s agricultural centers reside, but sales, distribution, manufacturing and cultivation of cannabis are currently banned.


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