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Published on Thursday, November 14, 2013

Marijuana licensing is about to begin as cities make sharing marijuana revenue a priority for 2014

One year after the voters approved the ground-breaking legalization of marijuana, the State will begin accepting applications from prospective marijuana businesses on November 18. Last November voters in our state voted 55% to 44% to approve I-502. (If you are interested to know how your area voted on the measure go to the Secretary of State’s website or your local County Auditor site.) While our State approved legalization of Marijuana, it remains illegal in federal law. This dichotomy has been cause for concern by many cities. The US Department of Justice memo released in August provided little clarity on what exactly the Feds would do. The memo indicates they won’t take preemptive action if the State establishes and enforces a tightly regulated system.

In the meantime, cities have been evaluating what is the best approach for their communities when it comes to locating marijuana businesses. MRSC has been working to collect information on what approaches cities are taking. If you have taken action, please share it with MRSC. If you have questions about what other cities are doing or want to explore options for local regulations, MRSC has great information on their website.

The Liquor Control Board has been very clear that they will issue licenses based on State requirements and will not address local regulations or prohibitions. However, they are trying to be proactive in encouraging prospective business operators to check in with their local jurisdictions about local requirements. With the application window opening next week, cities should anticipate receiving inquiries from prospective businesses as well as official notifications from the LCB about applicants seeking to locate in their city. Cities will have 20 days to respond to these notices if they have concerns or objections. For more information about this process and how cities can respond, check out the Marijuana Licensing Process webinar hosted by AWC, MRSC and LCB earlier this week.

In addition to tracking what is happening with implementation of legalized marijuana, AWC has made seeking a share of marijuana revenue a priority for the 2014 legislative session. The initiative directed where the revenue generated by the new marijuana excises taxes would go, but left out local governments. Cities believe that this needs to be corrected. The impacts from marijuana sales will be felt locally. Additionally, there has been a lot of talk about the need to ramp up enforcement efforts to crack down on the illicit market. Without additional funding, cities do not have the resources to address public safety impacts.

We also expect the Legislature to take up the issue of medical marijuana and its relation to legal recreational marijuana in 2014. AWC will advocate for reconciling these two systems to minimize the confusion and public safety impacts. The LCB recently released draft recommendations from a Work Group tasked with exploring this issue. AWC believes that most of the recommendations take us in the right direction for reconciling the two systems.

AWC will continue to follow this issue closely and keep cities up to date on the latest happenings. Between now and January, please talk to your legislators about the need to share the marijuana tax revenue with local governments, they need to hear it from you.

Categories: Marijuana