Pubdate: Tue, 01 Oct 2019
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2019 Los Angeles Times
Author: Patrick McGreevy


SACRAMENTO - Three years after California legalized the sale of
recreational marijuana, most voters want municipalities to permit pot 
shops in their communities even though the vast majority of cities have 
outlawed them, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of
Governmental Studies poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times.

According to the poll, 68% of Californians say legalization has been a 
good thing for the state, an increase in support since 2016, when 57% of 
voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized growing, selling and 
possessing cannabis for recreational use. The poll results come as city 
and state leaders are battling in court and the Legislature over control 
of California's pot market, including a dispute over efforts by 
California lawmakers to force cities to open their doors to cannabis shops.

"There hasn't been any real buyer's remorse about the initiative. If 
anything, support has gone up," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the 
Berkeley IGS poll.

California has emerged as the largest market for legal marijuana in the 
world, on track to post $3.1 billion in licensed cannabis sales this 
year. But that remains dwarfed by the black market, and revenue has 
fallen far short of expectations.

State officials originally predicted up to $1 billion in annual tax 
revenue from legal sales, but received just $465 million in the fiscal 
year that ended in June. Though California's pot agency initially hoped 
to license as many as 6,000 cannabis shops in the first few years, 
permits have been issued to only 601 retail stores and 274 home-delivery 

Industry officials put part of the blame for California's
underperforming pot market on complex licensing rules and high state and 
local taxes on the cultivation and sale of cannabis that they say add 
more than 45% to the price of pot in in legal shops.

But cannabis businesses also say cities have contributed to the
problem by outlawing pot shops.

Proposition 64, which was championed by Gavin Newsom before he was
elected governor, gave municipalities the power to ban marijuana
businesses. Some three-fourths of cities in the state have prohibited 
stores that sell cannabis products. The industry says that has stunted 
the state's legal market.

But the poll found that 63% of California voters favored their cities 
giving permits to cannabis stores, with support in all areas of the 
state, including 69% in Los Angeles County. The lowest support for pot 
shops was in the Inland Empire, which includes Riverside and San 
Bernardino counties, at 54%.

The survey results could ramp up pressure on city officials to
consider opening their borders to pot shops, said Lindsay Robinson, 
executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Assn.

"With this broad spectrum of support, it is critical that California's 
local municipalities honor the will of the voters, overturn their bans, 
and give their constituents access to tested and regulated cannabis," 
Robinson said.

Mayors and council members in many cities say they are concerned that 
cannabis stores may attract crime and are taking a wait-and-see 
approach, holding off on allowing pot shops and watching how retailers 
are functioning in cities that allow them, including Los Angeles and San 

Some officials feel so strongly about local control that 24 cities
took the issue to court, filing a lawsuit in April against the Newsom 
administration to challenge its rule allowing home delivery of marijuana 
in communities where brick-and-mortar pot shops have been banned. That 
suit is still pending.

At the same time, dozens of cities have put the question to voters in 
local elections. While some communities have opted to keep pot shops 
out, voters in other areas, including Malibu, Pasadena and El Dorado 
County, have approved cannabis businesses.

People may want cannabis shops in their communities, but might resist 
when stores are proposed next door, said Dale Gieringer, director of Cal 
NORML, a legalization advocacy group.

"Never underestimate the influence of NIMBY [not in my backyard]
resisters over local governments," Gieringer said.

Still, the survey findings were encouraging to Assemblyman Phil Ting 
(D-San Francisco), who viewed them as validation for a bill he 
introduced this year that would require cannabis stores to be approved 
in cities where a majority of voters supported Proposition 64. He 
intends to pursue the legislation again in 2020.

"A majority of voters supported Prop. 64, so I'm not surprised that a 
solid majority of Californians also want their cities to allow cannabis 
retailers," Ting said. "Providing safe access to cannabis products helps 
deter crime, creates good jobs and increases tax revenue."

The bill, which was temporarily shelved amid opposition from cities, 
counties and law enforcement, would require one licensed cannabis store 
for every six restaurants and bars with liquor licenses, or one for 
every 15,000 residents, whichever results in fewer pot shops in an area.

Ting's proposal would have led to 1,195 more cannabis retailers
opening up shop in the 392 incorporated cities and unincorporated
county areas that supported Proposition 64, according to a study by 
private consultants Applied Development Economics Inc.

The poll results have not swayed the League of California Cities,
which noted that Proposition 64 specifically provided for local
control, allowing cities and counties to determine where licenses are 

The league remains opposed to the Ting bill, according to Charles
Harvey, its legislative representative, who said the proposal "strips 
residents of their ability to decide what is appropriate for their 
community - a premise that directly contradicts the framework understood 
by the voters when approving Prop. 64."

Ting said he remained committed to advancing the legislation "in order 
to shut down the illicit businesses that are currently hurting our 

The large majority of voters surveyed who think legalization has
turned out to be a "good thing" may also give momentum to proponents of 
legal cannabis in states that have not legalized marijuana for 
recreational sales. And as the cannabis industry presses Congress to 
legalize pot on the national level, California's experience in the push 
and pull between local and state powers could inform decisions elsewhere 
in the country.

The poll found that most Democrats and voters from all age groups say 
legalization has been a good thing. Most Republicans and evangelical 
Christians say legalization has been a bad thing.

The poll surveyed 4,527 registered voters online in English and
Spanish from Sept. 13 to 18. The overall margin of error was plus or 
minus 2 percentage points.
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MAP posted-by: Matt