It’s been three years since California voters took to the polls to finally legalize cannabis for adult-use. But in the state of nearly 40 million people, the Golden State has only 601 licensed legal weed dispensaries, leaving millions of residents waiting for expansion.
In a new poll conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies for the Los Angeles Times about California’s pot laws, 68 percent of respondents said that legalization has been a good thing for the state. But when it came to pot shop geography, 63 percent of those surveyed said that they want to see a dispensary in their community.
“There hasn’t been any real buyer’s remorse about the initiative. If anything, support has gone up,” Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS poll, said.
When California’s legal weed law, Proposition 64, passed in 2016, it did so with 57 percent of the vote. With that support now spiked by more than 10 percentage points, researchers are confident that legalization was the right move for Californians. But in that law, Golden State voters set up a system that allowed local municipalities to opt out of licensing cannabis businesses, leaving huge swaths of state without legal access to weed. In other words, a lot of people who need cannabis have to go without — unless they're mobile and can drive upwards of a hundred (or more) miles to get to a legal dispensary.
Now, as cannabis users grow more wary of the potential dangers of black market weed and see the benefits brought on by legalization, more California residents are calling on their local leaders to embrace the growing green rush.
“With this broad spectrum of support, it is critical that California’s local municipalities honor the will of the voters, overturn their bans, and give their constituents access to tested and regulated cannabis,” Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, said.
To help in that dispensary expansion effort, state legislator Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) said that he intends to reintroduce a piece of legislation aimed at securing legal weed access for all Californians. If passed, Ting’s bill would require every city where a majority of voters supported Prop. 64 to allow dispensaries. As it is currently written, the legislation would require one dispensary for every six liquor licenses in a given community, or for every 15,000 people. Under Ting’s plan, the state would add more than 2,000 dispensaries up and down the West Coast.
“A majority of voters supported Prop. 64, so I’m not surprised that a solid majority of Californians also want their cities to allow cannabis retailers,” Ting told the LA Times. “Providing safe access to cannabis products helps deter crime, creates good jobs, and increases tax revenue.”
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