State Auditor Flags Problems with Local Cannabis Permitting

A new state audit has found problems with the way some municipalities handle commercial cannabis permitting. 

The State Auditor analyzed six California jurisdictions: Santa Barbara County, Monterey County, and the cities of Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego, and South Lake Tahoe. 

“Our review found that the local jurisdictions we reviewed did not always include several best practices in their permitting policies that help to ensure fairness and prevent conflicts of interest, abuse, and favoritism,” the Auditor said. “Only two of the local jurisdictions we reviewed used blind scoring of applications, wherein the identities of the applicants are kept from those reviewing and scoring applications, and four of the local jurisdictions we reviewed did not require that all individuals involved in reviewing applications agree to impartiality statements. My office also found that all six of the local jurisdictions we reviewed were inconsistent in following key steps that their permitting policies required. For example, records at each of the six jurisdictions lacked documentation to demonstrate that all applicants had passed their required background checks.”

The report included several recommendations to increase public trust and reduce risk of corruption. These include implementing blind scoring of applications, ensuring multiple people are responsible for approving or rejecting permits, and establishing an impartial appeals process for application denials.

Read the report in its entirety here