Laguna Beach the Latest Local Government to Start Listening to the Voters

Under California's legal system, in order to obtain a state license, a business needs authorization from the local city or county where the business is located. That is true for medical cannabis under the MMRSA, and it will be true for adult use cannabis under AUMA. The elected officials in many cities and counties have, at least so far, refused to permit any licenses.

But Californians love direct democracy. One tool to move local governments forward is the ballot measure. As previously reported, voters in Nevada County rejected a Board of Supervisor-backed initiative limiting grow operations, which convinced the Board to move forward with licensing. And voters in San Bernadino County hope to pass a measure to allow five dispensaries there, which the County had refused to allow.

Last week, the local ballot initiative strategy proved successful again. In Laguna Beach, local residents were pushing a ballot initiative to allow dispensaries, and the City Council was not happy about losing control of the process. As a result, the Laguna Beach City Council is moving forward with its own ballot initiative authorizing a limited number of dispensaries. This is clear recognition of the ability to go over the heads of unresponsive local government and go straight to the voters.