Californians Legalized Pot, But These 10 Big Cities Still Don’t Have Dispensaries


Although Californians voted to legalize adult marijuana use in 2016, it remains largely unavailable in some of the state’s largest cities.

Of the 482 cities in California, 174 of them allow some form of licensed cannabis trade, explains Hirsh Jain of Ananda Strategy.

Many of these cities only allow non-retail cannabis operations, such as manufacturing or distribution, “and therefore are missing arguably the most important part of the legal supply chain,” Jain said.

This is because Proposition 64, the voting initiative that legalized adult marijuana in the state, contained a provision that gave local jurisdictions the power to decide for themselves whether or not to allow the activity. retail sales of cannabis within their limits.

Of the 10 largest cities in the state where there is no marijuana dispensary, two are in the San Joaquin Valley, one in the Bay Area and the rest are in Southern California. , according to the WeedMaps website. Together, they represent more than 2.8 million people with no immediate access to cannabis retail, other than delivery.

Even delivery of cannabis could be subject to local jurisdiction requirements, said Moorea Warren of the California Department of Cannabis Control, although a state license allows a cannabis delivery company to deliver to any jurisdiction in the state.

“Access to legal cannabis and cannabis products statewide is important for public safety and to combat the illegal market,” Warren said in a statement.

Defenders of the California cannabis industry are opposing the local control provision, with some calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom and the legislature to get rid of it.

But Elisa Arcidiacono of the League of California Cities said local control “is a central promise of Proposition 64”.

In fact, to gain further support for the measure, the authors changed the original language to include the explicit right of cities and counties to ban marijuana-related businesses entirely if they so chose. If a city or county refuses to allow cannabis businesses within their jurisdiction, that’s very much in line with what voters approved when they legalized adult cannabis use in 2016, “Arcidiacono said in a press release.

Jennifer McGrath, a former lawyer in the city of Huntington Beach who now specializes in cannabis law, said the majority of cities that allow cannabis dispensaries are those that have a pre-existing medical cannabis regulatory system, those where voters approved a cannabis tax or those suffering from severe economic hardship.

“Cities that do not fall into these three categories are generally governed by city council policy. On more than one occasion in the past two years, a city has drafted, reviewed and held public hearings only to reject bylaws based on a change in city council membership, ”McGrath said.

She said one of the main reasons cities are delaying approving the retail sale of cannabis is politics.

“City council members and county supervisors fear re-election. Voting for cannabis can lead to loss of support from local police chiefs, community members and political action committees,” he said. she declared.

Here are the 10 largest cities in the state without a cannabis dispensary:

1. Fresno

Fresno, with 525,000 residents, is the largest city in California without a marijuana dispensary. However, that will change soon.

In September, the city’s Cannabis Monitoring Bureau granted preliminary approval to 21 cannabis retail businesses. Fresno City Council then rejected four of the licenses.

The first stores could open in early December, according to The Fresno Bee.

2. Bakersfield

When navigating I-5, don’t expect to come across marijuana dispensaries in Bakersfield, which has a population of 404,000. Neither Bakersfield nor the unincorporated parties in Kern County authorize the sale of cannabis.

Voters in 2020 rejected initiatives that would have allowed the sale of marijuana, according to the Bakersfield Californian.

3. Anaheim

Anaheim may be home to the Magic Kingdom, but there is no marijuana dispensary.

Anaheim City Council voted in 2020 to reject the retail sale of cannabis within city limits, with council members questioning who would benefit from the opening of these stores, according to Voice of OC. About 347,000 people live in the city.

4. Irvine

Like the city of Anaheim, another city in Orange County, the sale of marijuana is prohibited in the city of Irvine, which has a population of 307,000.

5. Frémont

The only Bay Area city on this list, Fremont bans all retail marijuana operations within city limits. About 230,000 people live in Alameda County.

6. Saint Clare

Shortly after California voters legalized adult cannabis in the state, the Santa Clarita City Council passed an emergency ordinance banning the sale of recreational marijuana in the city, according to KHTS. About 228,000 people live in the city.

7. Fontana

Fontana City Council voted in January 2016 to pass an ordinance banning all cannabis-related activity in the city of 208,000, according to the city’s clerk’s office.

8. Oxnard

Much like Fresno, Oxnard has paved the way for opening retail cannabis dispensaries in the city of 202,000 people, with stores likely to open in 2022, according to Hirsh Jain.

9. Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach City Council decided in August 2017 to take a “wait and see” approach to cannabis operations, passing a zoning amendment that currently prohibited the sale and distribution of marijuana to individuals. recreational purposes, according to the Los Angeles Times.

They took up the issue again in August 2019, according to the Orange County Tribune, but the ban remains in place in Huntington Beach, which has a population of 199,000.

10. Glendale

Glendale City Council voted in November 2017 to ban cannabis-related activities in the town of 196,000 people.


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