California municipalities already have some significant sway when it comes to shaping whether and how the cannabis industry will operate in their jurisdictions. And on Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that adds to their powers. In addition to blocking permits and setting additional revenue taxes for cannabis businesses, California’s local jurisdictions now have the power to determine the venue for temporary weed events they approve.
California Cities Gain New Powers To Decide Fate of Temporary Weed Events
Prior to California’s landmark passage of Proposition 64 in 2016, the state was a destination for cannabis event-goers around the world. Legalization, paradoxically, has actually made cannabis events more difficult to pull off. Previously, temporary weed events had no rules, no regulations to follow. No permits or approvals to seek. They just happened anywhere they could, anywhere people were friendly and chill enough not to attract unwanted attention.
Now, however, cannabis events have laws, rules and regulations to follow and permits and approvals to get. Some top-tier events, like the High Times NorCal and Central Valley Cannabis Cups, have been able to negotiate for state and local approval to sell and consume cannabis. Other events like the Chalice Festival, however, could not secure local approval and had to cancel. The city that had hosted Chalice prior to legalization, Victorville, exercised its power to “strictly prohibit” temporary weed events.
And today, cities gained even more power to decide the fate of cannabis events. Rather than give local governments more power to restrict cannabis events, however, the new law lets cities that do choose to host events make them more accessible to attendees and vendors.
Cities Can Now Choose Any Venue for Temporary Weed Events
One of the difficulties event planners faced was a statute in the state’s cannabis laws. This rule prohibited local authorities from approving licenses for cannabis sales at special events unless they were held on county fairgrounds. To allow cities to hold temporary weed events at other venues, Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) introduced AB 2020. AB 2020 allows local governments to approve cannabis event licenses of any kind at any venue they wish to permit. Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2020 into law on Wednesday.
Now, cities looking to benefit from the fiscal and social benefits of cannabis events can make them easier to attend. In many California counties, fairgrounds are hundreds of miles away from population centers. They can take hours to get to and can provide limited amenities for event-goers. Now, cities can better coordinate with event planners to provide the most enjoyable experience for attendees and vendors alike. Overall, the law makes it easier for cities to choose to take part in the industry. In the words of Assemblymember Quirk, cities now have “more autonomy.”
AB 2020 still has restrictions against unlawful or unpermitted activity at temporary cannabis events. Law enforcement and the Bureau of Cannabis Control have authority to revoke permits and end events if there are violations. Adhering to regulations regarding secondhand smoke is likely to be one of the tougher issues events will have to manage.