- Posted by Erica Treeby
- On October 23, 2016
- breaking, California, cannabis, Cannabis License, Cannabis Permit, commercial medical cannabis, guidelines, licensing, local government, MCRSA, regulation
Since the enactment of the Medical Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act (“MCRSA”), comprised of AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643, local governments throughout California have scrambled to update their jurisdiction’s ordinances to align with the new state law. Per AB 243, “[i]f a city, county, or city and county does not have land use regulations or ordinances regulating or prohibiting the cultivation of marijuana, either expressly or otherwise under principles of permissive zoning, or chooses not to administer a conditional permit program pursuant to this section, then … the [state] shall be the sole licensing authority for medical marijuana cultivation applicants in that city, county, or city and county.”
Furthermore, MCRSA created a dual licensing scheme, whereby both a local permit and a state-issued license are required in order to operate lawfully in California. In fact, an applicant cannot commence any commercial cannabis activity under a state license until the “applicant” has obtained a “local permit, license or other authorization.” (Bus. & Prof. Code § 19320(a).)
While some local jurisdictions have reacted to MCRSA by expressly banning all medical cannabis activities, others have developed a local regulatory permit system. With local legislation in flux, understanding how California’s local government is structured is integral to understanding the role local legislation plays in regulating commercial cannabis businesses.
Local Government Explained:
The California Government Code and Article XI of the California Constitution provide for the creation and existence of local government agencies. California local government is comprised of counties, cities, special districts and regional bodies.
A county is the largest political subdivision of the state having corporate powers. California is politically subdivided into 58 counties. The county serves as the local government for all unincorporated areas within the county–meaning those areas not within any incorporated city. San Francisco is a consolidated city-county, and its government has the powers of both. Three counties–Alpine, Mariposa and Trinity–contain no incorporated cities.
A county is vested by the Legislature with the power to provide for the health and welfare of those within its borders. County government’s are responsible for providing countywide services, such as law enforcement, public health, agricultural regulations, zoning regulations, and building inspections. Counties have the power to implement taxes, and to promulgate ordinances that do not conflict with general laws.
All of California’s counties, besides San Francisco, are governed by an elected five-member board of supervisors, who maintain a legislative, executive and quasi-judicial role. The powers of a county can only be exercised by the board of supervisors or through officers acting under authority of the board.
Most urbanized areas are incorporated as cities. A city is a municipal corporation. As of July 2011, there are 482 incorporated cities in California. Cities derive their power from either the California Government Code or from adopting a city charter. Unlike counties, cities have broad powers of self government and are free from much legislative control. Incorporated municipalities may levy taxes and promulgate ordinances, which are often contained in a city code.
The Take Away:
Because MCRSA authorizes local governments to adopt their own regulations governing commercial medical cannabis activities, it is important to know applicable city and county codes to determine whether medical cannabis activities are permitted, partially permitted, or banned in your community.
Contact CannaBusinessLaw for expert assistance in compliance with cannabis licensing, permitting and the application process relating to commercial cannabis in California.