Chart: Most California municipalities ban commercial cannabis activity

Two-thirds of California municipalities prohibit marijuana businesses from setting up shop, underscoring the hurdles MJ entrepreneurs face in trying to break into the world’s largest legal cannabis market.

Only 161 of California’s 482 municipalities and 24 of the 58 counties have opted to allow commercial cannabis activity of any sort, according to data from CannaRegs, a website that tracks local marijuana rule developments in the state.

In addition, many of those local jurisdictions are selective about the type of cannabis business they allow, such as testing labs only. Others permit medical marijuana companies but not recreational businesses.

In short, getting into the California market isn’t as simple as walking into San Francisco or Los Angeles and filing paperwork to start a marijuana store or grow.

The state remains a patchwork of regulations and rules, with most local jurisdictions choosing to implement their own regulatory schemes on top of state rules.

Part of the transition into a state-regulated system also means that tens of thousands of legacy operators who fueled California’s gray medical marijuana market for two decades have been shut out of the legal industry, either by local license caps or by city and county ordinances that ban their business models.

Many of those pioneers are small companies, often one-person operations, that don’t have the money to relocate to a city or county that will grant them permits to continue doing business in the legal marijuana sector.

This has led to enormous market contraction, while simultaneously opening business opportunities for newcomers to the industry down the road.

Read more about the state of the California cannabis market in our free report, California: One Year In.

John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]

Eli McVey can be reached at [email protected]

15 comments on “Chart: Most California municipalities ban commercial cannabis activity
  1. Yo Mama on

    Stupid article about nothing. Why don’t you research licensed products in black market stores. Or lack of black market enforcement in California because they are colluding and bribing city officials. Especially Orange county

    • Yo Fatha on

      You sound just like a dispensary owner in OC that is making a big stink online about unlicensed products in unlicensed stores. Orange County is a great example of a county that has a massive problem and that problem is that only one city allows 30 storefronts!!!

      No one wants to help those dispensary owners create a monopoly!

      The first step to reducing the black market in Orange County is to allow dispensaries in all 34 cities.. not just in one!!

      Can you imagine if there was only 30 liquor stores in OC? It would be a disaster.

  2. Jeff on

    This is what happens when you try to run a business where the majority of the population do not respect individual rights and/or property rights….oh that’s right it is California where they give lip service to capitalism, then pass all those laws restricting freedom.

  3. david smitt on

    Well it was a nice experiment. Most of the market (black) has remained and is thriving as California’s towns and cities refuse to roll out prop 64. Some may be protecting their “cut” of profits others may just prefer the Black Market over a safe and regulated program.
    I talked with one who is refusing to double the cost of cannabis to consumers just so the state of California can claim to be the worlds largest drug cartel.
    The trillion dollar war on drugs did one thing really well, it forced the price so high that it was likened to “the green gold rush”. It was the best advertisement to become a cannabis business operator. High profit, very little risk and no time clocks, Prop 64’s regulations appear to be written by people opposed to and trying to stop legal cannabis. It’s to bad, I was hoping that Governor Newsome could be president someday. This weed fiasco could be his waterloo, as he was the only politician in California to endorse this mess.

  4. mike on

    sad that the medical need will get screwed as a side of the powers wanting to keep pot on the black market. black means that the high profit criminal justice system can continue for cops, lawyers, courts, jails and all those others that profit from the underground. shudda just kept it legal for meds and brought it out of the respectability of a medicine.

    • Pat on

      You got it right. The legislators and the criminally inclined special interests wanted this to happen. To re-demonize the herb, and take attention away from its original purpose: medicinal. Except of course, those that get granted a “license”to sell it. Remember, you don’t need a license to use a schedule 1 substance. Not even a recommendation from a doc. A license that when presented to a cop, lawyer, judge, etc..gets a pass. Why? The taxes that are being made off that licensee are going into their paychecks. And that’s the only reason. Otherwise, they really don’t give a crap…Unless you are among the 99% not got going along with this scheme and contributing to their bottom line. Then, you are categorized as a “bad” person; deserving of severe punishment. But all comers that want to BUY it and pay taxes on it are looked upon as golden by the oppressors. Anyone see anything wrong with that?

  5. jeffrey najar on

    I appreciate the intelligence and can see where the business opportunities should open for the savvy firm. It also shows a sustained outreach to local government is critical.

    • Pat on

      “Outreach to local gov?” That die was cast a long time ago. Meaning, to keep the supply low and the price high. Not gonna happen for a long, long time if it’s left to ca. If and when the Feds change their legalization priorities may create more “legal” and reasonable opportunity for other’s. But, even so; ca. (at the state level ) has a way of slowing all of that down to where it is right now via their “regulators.” My guess, it’s going to be the black market breaking new ground because gov. can’t govern. Too caught up in the special interest racket, and not the very people’s interest they have a charge in serving. And these black market folks… At this point, with all the gov. foot dragging and betrayal’s… All gov’s fault. They know; they don’t accept responsibility and they don’t care. So, the black market doesn’t care. And, why should they? A lot of them have been paying federal and state taxes to get this type of governance.

  6. John... on

    I am Definitely in one of these county’s, San Bernardino County the single largest county in California, has a complete BAN on Everything Cannabis, Medical delivery services, are illegal but allowed to operate just so the county doesn’t get Sued,

    A couple of cities have had special elections to legalize a Very limited number of operations, at a very Steep entry price, Adelanto, has Legal Cultivation and extraction…, $5,000 Application fee…doesn’t guarantee a license, just a fee to Pick up the paperwork, on top of that, land is about $1 million an acre… and you still have to build a building to grow in…

    30 year grower, former medical dispensary owner regulated out of business, medical patient, None of it matters in this county, apparently in a lot of other county’s as well, judging by the need to write this article…

    I voted NO on 64, because it was so f***ed up I couldn’t even make myself vote for it… This is Exactly what I though would come from it … and here we are, people who have been part of this industry for Decades are now looking for jobs in Other industries, just to make ends meet …

    While our industry is Being Dominated, by Idiots with money who can afford the high cost of entry, by screwing their employees out of pay because there are not very many protections in place for employees in the cannabis industry, These People are coming from the Banking industry, Fashion, even law enforcement, the very people who were fighting against us all these years are now Putting us out of business and now profiting from what used to be ours…

    So Hi cost of entry, High Taxes, High Cost of Compliance to meet all of the Ridiculous new regulations, High price of Real estate in the Few areas that have allowed Cannabis to exist, all of that adds up to Millions of dollars being needed to pull off Even the Smallest of Grow operations.

    The Wife and I were going to go it alone, and get the Cottage Cultivation license ( Before we knew San Bernardino was going to ban it all together) The State License Fee and the Cost of Compliance for a “Mom and Pop” business license would have been in the area of $125-$225 Thousand Dollars in Startup and Licensing fees, What Mom and Pop operation can afford startup fees like that ?

    The Whole thing was designed to allow all of Newsunce and Browns Friends to come in and dominate the entire market and take control of it away from the people… And this is why the Black market will live on forever…

  7. grant on

    the countys will come around. state licensed delivery services can deliver wherever they like. The Countys and cities have no legal right to stop it. And reservations can grow and sell on their property legally, with NO tax, no transportation cost and no red tape. So, taxes will come down too. When the countys realize they havent prohibited anything but their own revenue, they will come around

  8. Peter on

    Medical patients in Central California are really getting the BULLET! They get a frickin BULLET train 170miles long and the ride is less than a half hour. Nowhere but Tulare county allows dispensaries. Sickening opiate epidemic but WEED is not allow3d. WTF. what say the Sheriffs Association of California counties?………..

  9. mark on

    MAN!……so many unhappy campers here.I think what the unconnect,unmonied class can only do is work localy and get those homegrow limits established or increased. If you are a good “hobbyist” 1 to 16 plants is a pretty good yeld.After a harvest ,share with friends.Useing that old adage here “a friend with weed is a friend indeed.

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