Proposed Law Would Greatly Expand Pot Businesses in California Communities

SACRAMENTO -- A bill to expand the sales of marijuana in many areas of California is moving its way through the State Capitol, supported by those who say local governments are ignoring the will of voters who passed Proposition 64.

Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, says two-thirds of the state's communities still do now allow a single marijuana retailer and three-quarters of them have not yet set up a framework or rules for sales.

Ting says that flies in the face of the 57% of voters who voted to approve legalized recreational use and sales of pot. The Committee on Business and Professions recently heard from witnesses as they testified that they can’t easily get the medicinal marijuana they need, including those who represent injured military veterans.

The bill was passed, although other committee hurdles lie ahead.

Ting’s bill requires those areas that voted in favor of Proposition 64 to establish retail outlets equal to a quarter of the number of liquor licenses in the area, or one for every 10,000 residents, whichever is fewer.

That would increase Sacramento’s current 30 licensed dispensaries to around 50.

Phil Blurton, owner of All About Wellness, says that’s too many for businesses to remain viable. He says the city has increased taxes and created special taxes on pot businesses that rely on a static customer base.

He says a similar law in Oregon resulted in bankruptcies and an overproduction of pot that ended up on a growing black market.

Ting’s bill would allow local restrictions in areas where voters voted against Proposition 64. It requires a two-thirds vote to get to the governor’s desk.

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