Judge Dismisses Local Governments’ Pot Delivery Challenge

A Fresno County Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit from Santa Cruz County and two dozen California cities challenging statewide cannabis delivery rules. The outcome may look like a victory for the state’s cannabis industry. But it carries a silver lining for the plaintiffs as well.

The governments filed the lawsuit in 2019 after the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) greenlit cannabis delivery sales statewide. The plaintiffs argued the regulations violate the spirit of Proposition 64, which allows local governments to control the sale of marijuana within their jurisdictions. (To date, around 80% of California cities prohibit commercial pot sales.)

Once the state was taken to court, it made an astonishing admission, claiming that its regulations do not prevent local governments from enacting or enforcing local restrictions on home deliveries within their borders. The court agreed and dismissed the suit on that basis.

Since the suit led the state to acknowledge the cities’ right to regulate cannabis deliveries, it was not without benefits, the plaintiffs’ attorneys said. More clarity is probably needed to prevent lawsuits against cities and counties. The plaintiffs are still considering whether to appeal.

The outcome has received mixed reactions from the cannabis industry.

“It’s not a loss, but it’s not a win for delivery,” Zach Pitts, CEO of Los Angeles-based Ganja Goddess and a board member of the California Cannabis Couriers Association, told Marijuana Business Daily.

“What I really don’t like is the possibility that we’re still going to have to litigate this. And in many ways, that’s putting the litigation onto small companies … with every single city and county that decides to ban delivery.”

This is unlikely to be the last word.