The city of Ceres, along with 24 other local governments, is seeking to invalidate a new state regulation designed to allow the delivery of commercial cannabis within communities that have regulated or banned deliveries under Proposition 64.
Along with Ceres, the 25 local governments initiating the lawsuit against the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) are the cities of Agoura Hills, Angels Camp, Arcadia, Atwater, Beverly Hills, Clovis, Covina, Dixon, Downey, McFarland, Newman, Oakdale, Palmdale, Patterson, Riverbank, Riverside, San Pablo, Sonora, Tehachapi, Temecula, Tracy, Turlock, and Vacaville. Joining the suit filed by Churchwell White LLP is the county of Santa Cruz.
The lawsuit filed in Fresno Superior Court alleges that BCC Regulation 5416(d) is invalid because it eliminates the ability of cities and counties to regulate commercial cannabis deliveries within their jurisdictions – a key promise in Proposition 64 which legalized commercial cannabis activities in California. Regulation 5416(d) states that: “[a cannabis] delivery employee may deliver to any jurisdiction within the state.
Ceres City Manager Toby Wells said the BCC regulations would affect Ceres because anyone with a state license could deliver cannabis products in Ceres which can undermine the financial success of the two dispensaries licensed under developer agreements.
“We liked the idea of a dispensary and being able to control, security, we know exactly who’s there, we know exactly what’s going on versus that transaction happening anywhere in the community,” said Wells.
He said cities are concerned about nefarious activity – and the possibility of delivery agents being robbed – if cannabis deliveries are allowed to be made. Wells noted that Proposition 64 was written for local control.
“The whole concept (of Prop 64) is the local agency could decide what they want to or don’t want to allow – deliveries specifically. We specifically considered that and decided that’s not in our best interests. We don’t want to police it. We would prefer that transaction to occur in a secure location. So it’s a fundamental shift from the legislation.”
Turlock City Manager Bob Lawton said the lawsuit “doesn’t take a position in any form on cannabis itself. It’s a lawsuit to preserve local control.”
“The cities and the firms involved in pursuing this litigation know our rights,” said Lawton. “We are serious about preserving them, and we feel very strongly about the likelihood of prevailing.”
“Californians voted to allow recreational and commercial cannabis with the specific promise that each community would be able to regulate or even ban it within their community,” said Walter Allen III, a member of the Covina City Council. “The BCC’s actions in adopting this regulation burden local governments in jurisdictions that have regulated or banned commercial cannabis deliveries.”
Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty said the BBC is “fundamentally changing Proposition 64, eroding local control and harming our local cannabis businesses by allowing commercial cannabis deliveries in every jurisdiction in California. This betrays the promise made to the voters in Proposition 64.”
The plaintiffs assert that the BCC ignored the specific language of Proposition 64, in Business and Professions Code sections 26090 and 26200, guaranteeing cities and counties the right to regulate or prohibit the operation of recreational and commercial cannabis deliveries within their communities. Business and Professions Code section 26200 provides that nothing shall limit the authority of cities and counties to regulate or completely prohibit commercial cannabis activities within their jurisdiction.
“This lawsuit is not pro- or anti-cannabis. We are left with no choice but to challenge these regulations because they violate key provisions of local control promised to voters when they passed Proposition 64,” said John Mirisch, Mayor of Beverly Hills. “By usurping local ordinances, these regulations interfere with local governments’ ability to enact local regulations that may be necessary to protect the public safety and public health.”
The cities say voters were promised several key things when Prop. 64 was on the ballot, among them that:
• Cities and counties could regulate nonmedical marijuana businesses. For example, cities and counties could require nonmedical marijuana businesses to obtain local licenses and restrict where they could be located. Cities and counties could also completely ban marijuana-related businesses.”
• Preserves local control.