State laws legalizing the use and cultivation of marijuana will take effect in the new year, but cities like La Cañada Flintridge, not content to wait and see how things hash out, are acting now to regulate what they can.
In that spirit, the city Planning Commission recommended Tuesday an ordinance that would prohibit all commercial marijuana activities inside city limits, including but not limited to retail sales, commercial cultivation, manufacturing and/or distribution of marijuana products.
Assistant City Atty. Adrian Guerra explained to commissioners what marijuana-related activities local governments are allowed to prohibit, and what they cannot legislate against.
For example, La Cañada can and does prohibit the outdoor growing of marijuana for any use. But local lawmakers' hands are tied when it comes to banning the state-sanctioned indoor cultivation of up to six marijuana plants for personal use, Guerra said.
Starting in January, the state will begin issuing 20 different types of licenses pertaining to commercial marijuana activities for adult and medicinal use. Business owners will have to obtain a state license and a license issued by the local government in which they'll operate, in order to lawfully operate their business.
Now, it's up to cities to determine if they will permit and regulate such commercial enterprises or prohibit them outright.
Currently, the cities of Bellflower, Huntington Park, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Lynwood have elected to permit and regulate such activity. Norwalk, Lomita, Torrance, Compton and Gardena have opted to prohibit commercial operations.
"If a city does not have a law in place regulating it or prohibiting it, theoretically, those licenses could come to the city," Guerra said.
Many uncertainties remain, including how the state will regulate allowable activities and whether a new presidential administration will enforce the federal illegality of marijuana in states where voters favor legalization.
"There hasn't been any (recent) enforcement under federal law," Guerra said, outlining objectives set forth by former President Obama. "(But) we don't know exactly how the new administration will deal with these types of laws."
Commissioners present approved the prohibition 3-0 (Commission Chair Rick Gunter was absent from Tuesday's meeting, and Commissioner Jeffrey McConnell recused himself from the vote).
"I think the direction the city is taking is quite admirable because it is proactive," said Commissioner Arun Jain.
"I'm fully on board," added Commissioner Henry Oh.
The commission's recommendation is expected to go before the City Council in November.