Marijuana is legal in California, but many residents are having a difficult time finding it. Just three months into the state’s cannabis retail program, nearly 40 percent of Californians are more than an hour away from the nearest regulated store.
Call it the NIMBY Effect. According to the Sacramento Bee:
The reason for the dearth of dispensaries across much of the state is simple local control. The legalization initiative, Proposition 64, gave local government the authority to ban or regulate commercial cannabis. Many communities have chosen to ban.
Industry officials say the local bans harm patients, threaten the financial viability of California’s nascent commercial market and do not reflect the will of voters, who approved Prop. 64 by 57 percent. Local government officials say not all communities with bans expect them to be permanent.
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The industry is hoping to improve the situation with a bill, SB 1302, that would allow cannabis delivery in communities with local bans. The bill, by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, could face opposition from local governments that see their control as an essential component of Prop 64.
The situation is creating three major unintended consequences:
- The illicit market is filling the void created by these NIMBY local laws.
- Patients in dire need of medical marijuana are finding it difficult to access their medicine.
- Illegal farms are thriving in areas denying retail shops to open.
The Bee analyzed 284 dispensaries licensed across the state and found:
- 30 percent of the state is within 30 miles of at least one dispensary. These are mostly the metro areas for the state’s biggest cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.
- 29 percent of the state is between 30 and 60 miles of a dispensary.
- The biggest part of the state, 38 percent, is between 60 and 120 miles of a dispensary.