Updated: Apr 2
Cities in California are still conservative about recreational cannabis, here's why:
Since California legalized the use of recreational cannabis in 2016, many cities have been slow to embrace it by keeping a moratorium against any cannabis activity.
Several reasons lawmakers have upheld bans:
1. Fear of public safety and community effects
Many cities in California have local ordinances that prohibit the sale of recreational cannabis within their jurisdiction. These ordinances vary from city to city, but they often stem from fears over public safety and the negative effects of cannabis on young people. However, there has been no evidence to support this argument. In fact, many point out that the conservative cities actually have unlicensed dispensaries and have seen no direct impact to support the theory of public safety.
Take the city of Arcadia, California a city that is considered an affluent community with extremely high international wealth with 60% asain population, very family friendly, and an average household income of $95,736 in 2020. This town is considered one of the wealthiest cities in San Gabriel valley. Arcadia is not Cannabis friendly and has been reluctant to hear any community input on the topic. The residents have been under the impression that cannabis business would lower property values and bring violence in the city which is far from reality.
Arcadia has had unlicensed dispensaries for the past 8 years and only in the past 4 years has the city reported an increase in robberies and assaults. Only in the past 4 years the city has also seen an unprecedented increase in the homeless population. Arcadia has ignored any inquiries about cannabis business to avoid public conversation.
2. Public Health
Many people still view cannabis as a drug that is harmful and dangerous, and they worry that allowing its sale and use will increase crime, drug addiction, and other negative social effects. Cannabis is also seen as a low class habit in affluent neighborhoods.
3. Federal law and enforcement costs
Although California has legalized the use of recreational cannabis, it is still illegal under federal law. Some cities may be hesitant to allow the sale and distribution of a substance that is technically illegal at the federal level. This also opens the door to federal intervention which no city nor their police force want to deal with.
Cannabis legal infrastructure will also be costly and difficult to enforce as we seen in Los Angeles with an unprecedented amount of unlicensed shops that keep popping up despite forced closures. The cost vs benefit may not be clearly known to cities and some leaders rather not deal with it at all.
4. Lack of understanding and public knowledge
Cannabis has been stigmatized for decades, and many people still view it as a “gateway drug” that leads to addiction and other harmful behaviors. This stigma has been perpetuated by the media and the government, who have demonized cannabis and its users. As a result, many people are still hesitant to support cannabis legalization, fearing that it will lead to increased drug use and crime. This is despite the fact that numerous studies have shown that cannabis can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
Many cities and its citizens simply lack understanding of what the legalization of recreational cannabis means for their communities. They may not know how to regulate or tax it properly, or they may be unsure about the potential impact on their local economy and social well beings.
The lack of education has also led to confusion about the different types of cannabis products and their effects, leading to concerns about public safety.
Overall flawed laws
Prop 64 which has led to recreational cannabis in California, has also left out many aspects that are just now being addressed (banking, ingredients, etc...) It has also limited entrance into the industry for small business as the costs to pursue any license come with a requirement to have $1 million plus in reserves and had no plans to educate California citizens.
Many cities in California are still conservative about cannabis legalization due to a lack of education, stigma, and concerns about public safety. However, as more states legalize cannabis and the benefits become more apparent, it is likely that attitudes towards cannabis will continue to change, and more cities in California will embrace legalization. It is important to continue educating people about the benefits of cannabis and addressing concerns about public safety to ensure a safe and successful transition to legalization.
Arcadia crime rates https://www.arcadiaca.gov/protect/police_department/crime_information/crime_statistics.php
Proposition 64 https://www.courts.ca.gov/prop64.htm