A long-awaited case that could have major implications on California’s legal cannabis business was finally brought before a Fresno County Superior Court Judge on Monday.
The case’s primary issue is a policy enacted by the state Bureau of Cannabis Control ( BCC) in July 2018. The policy allowed marijuana delivery businesses licensed by the state to deliver marijuana products anywhere they wish regardless of city or county restrictions on commercial cannabis regulations.
Many marijuana delivery companies said that their businesses have grown since the policy was put in place and pointed out that an overturn could significantly affect the legal consumer base.
The suit against BCC was filed by 25 local governments in April 2019. The plaintiffs argued that the policy violates state laws that guarantee cities and counties the jurisdiction to prohibit cannabis business within their boundaries.
The case was heard on Monday by Superior Court Judge Rosemary McGuire, with Deputy Attorney General Ethan Turner representing the BCC and Steven Churchwell and J.Scott Miller representing the local government plaintiffs.
In the case, Churchwell and Miller told Judge McGuire that the BCC policy was incompatible with both Proposition 64, a ballot box measure voters approved in 2016 to legalize adult-use marijuana, and the state laws guaranteeing that cities and counties could regulate cannabis business as they see fit.
Miller told the judge that the BCC policy “directly conflicts with the local autonomy” and added that allowing cannabis commerce anywhere in the state with no regard to local regulations usurps that authority. He added that the lawsuit has valid grounds to challenge BCC’s policy because it overstepped its regulatory authority.
However, Deputy Attorney General Turner argued that the BCC’s policy does not prohibit local governments from restricting marijuana deliveries, claiming it is upon the local governments to enforce their regulations.
Turner assured no harm in the BCC policy, which did not interfere with the local jurisdiction to put restrictive measures on cannabis commerce within their boundaries.
Judge McGuire did not rule immediately, choosing to take the arguments under advisement and further considerations.
The ruling is expected to take time, with legal observers expecting it to end up in the state Supreme Court.