Californians can now legally get high.
That much you know, because it was settled with the passage Tuesday of Prop. 64.
Where and how Californians can get their marijuana, on the other hand, hasn’t been established.
Shops that sell recreational marijuana can’t open for about a year, while the state develops detailed regulations and creates a licensing system.
In the meantime, local governments will have to figure out whether they want to regulate or ban marijuana-related businesses. And if a breakdown of how counties voted Tuesday is any indication, there will likely be large swaths of the Golden State that won’t turn green.
THEY SAY NAY
Twenty one of California’s 58 counties voted against Prop. 64.
Many of those counties are clustered in the Central Valley. From Modoc County in the state’s northeast corner to Kern County, legal weed was voted down.
Another county that said no was Imperial County, which borders Arizona and Mexico.
Two of the biggest cities to say nay were Fresno and Bakersfield – the state’s fifth and ninth most populous cities, respectively.
In all, Prop 64 passed with nearly 5 million votes. But 3.9 million people rejected it. And, yes, that might matter.
Because a key part of the law is that, while it’s a statewide ruling – you can, in fact, get high in homes throughout the state – the business side of Prop. 64 is very much a local decision. Towns and communities can vote for and against ordinances that regulate weed. In fact, they can:
- Enact additional requirements and taxes
- Enforce regulations on marijuana businesses
- Ban marijuana businesses
THEY SAY ‘EVENTUALLY’
That could create some interesting neighborhoods up and down the state.
Butte County, for example, voted yes on Prop. 64. But the five counties that touch its borders did not. So Butte will keep its particular status quo, passing a local law known as Measure A, which already regulates the size of medical marijuana farms and bans dispensaries within the county borders.
“I think we’ll be patient, waiting until we see how (Prop. 64) rolls out and is applied in other areas before we make any major changes,” said Butte County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Connelly.
Just north of Butte, in Tehama County, 52 percent of voters showed they don’t want legal marijuana. The county already bans outdoor growing and growing in any building intended for human occupancy.
Although Prop. 64 allows adults to grow up to six marijuana plants in private homes, counties and cities can enact stricter rules like those in place in Tehama County.
“I don’t think there will be much change,” said Tehama County District 3 Supervisor Dennis Garton. “Everybody seems to be pretty happy with it right now.”
That happiness might be tested, in part because the state law is still in development.
Prop. 64 calls for the Bureau of Cannabis Regulation to create regulations and issue licenses for the operation of pot businesses on or before Jan. 1, 2018.
Until then, no business can legally sell recreational marijuana, leaving many communities in limbo over how to handle the new law.
THEY SAY ‘HUH?’
Garton questioned how counties around the state are supposed to deal with marijuana regulation by 2018 when the state won’t have a system for that regulation in place until then.
He also said many Tehama County voters weren’t happy the proposition passed at all.
“Well, my constituents don’t want it in this county,” Garton said. “But they understand it’s state law.”
South of Tehama and west of Butte, supervisors in Glenn County have formed a committee to look at marijuana regulations.
“Basically, we’re still in the information-gathering phase,” said John Viegas, Supervisor for District I in Glenn County, which voted no on the proposition.
One side of the law figures to remain unchanged: medical marijuana.
Prop. 64 doesn’t really affect medical marijuana laws, except to make all patients renew their prescriptions by 2018 and eventually add some additional taxes.
Viegas said one of the committee’s weed-related tasks will be to decide how to separate the medicinal from the recreational.
“Right now we’ve got all our ordinance in line as far as the medicinal marijuana,” he said. “How we’re going to delineate that from recreational, I don’t know.”