Large cities, historically, have seemed to bounce in and out of the public spotlight, with people, in general, more likely to know New York, Chicago, Orlando, or Los Angeles than Ithaca, Peoria, Fort Pierce, or Eureka. Under the Trump Administration, large city criminal violence and drug crime have been a continued part of the vocal narrative from the Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department. For states operating beyond the federal law by creating recreational marijuana laws, the administration’s position is clearly in opposition to the will of the voters.
In order to prevent federal interference, many state and local governments have been either considering or creating legal protections for residents, businesses, and visitors specific to legal marijuana use, possession, and cultivation under state law. As arguably the largest single marijuana market in the United States, a lot of people have been wondering how is Los Angeles protecting their marijuana industry from the feds?
The easy arguments
In states where their recreational marijuana programs have been created and fully implemented, thousands of jobs have been created, millions in tax revenues collected, and a statistically significant drop in marijuana-related convictions plague the people and the police. For states where marijuana is legal, yet the retail aspects have not had the opportunity to begin, these easy arguments become little more than speculation.
Instead the easy arguments – jobs, taxes, crime – can be distilled into one fundamental principle: socially positive growth. Growth is potential, leveraging a longtime Trump Administration pledge of economic growth with the possibility of creating thousands of jobs, tens of millions in local tax revenues, and shifting the priorities of police to more harmful or violent criminal behaviors. Protecting the Los Angeles marijuana industry from the feds, therefore, should begin by educating at the social level the potential for growth.
Stemming from this very need for good public information, the state has been working to accelerate research by removing barriers to study which burden researchers, such as cost, approval procedure, and review processes. California is attempting to lessen the restrictions on banking or financial services for marijuana businesses to further integrate the financial institutions used by every legally operating industry and they want to remove the federal restrictions blocking access to financial aid or subsidized housing for marijuana use or past criminal convictions.
Flower for the people, high the people
Of course, suggesting the benefits of increased tax revenues and more focused criminal justice priorities are the first line of defense. As the state of California is not fully expected to have recreational sales 100% operational until sometime in 2018, these effects will not likely be fully measured or researched until years later. In order to gain immediate footing in the potential federal upending, representatives in the state legislature and local government committees have been mulling options to further remove the recreational industry from federal interruption.
Of the best potential solutions, the California Committee on Public Safety has passed AB 1578, a bill which if enacted would limit any state or local government or agency from aiding federal agencies with regard to marijuana without a signed federal court order. For protecting the marijuana industry in Los Angeles and elsewhere, the bill would prohibit:
- The use of state, local, or agency money, property, employees, or equipment to investigate, report, arrest, or detain a person engaged in personal or professional cannabis activities under allowed state or local laws in California.
- Responding to a request made by a federal agency for information on an individual who is in acting in compliance with California marijuana laws and any relevant local ordinances, but only if the request is asking for the information to investigate a federal marijuana law. This includes possession, cultivation, transportation, manufacture, and sale of marijuana.
- Any state or local governmental agency from providing information about who has applied, who has received, and who has been rejected a license to engage in commercial marijuana activity but only if the request for information applies to the investigation of federal marijuana laws.
- Any state or local government from transferring or detaining an individual in federal custody for the purposes of marijuana enforcement for conduct which is legal under California state or local Los Angeles marijuana law.
Not only does this create a legal safeguard for adults, medical patients, business owners, and other varieties of the cannabis consuming public, with AB 1758 in tow Los Angeles is protecting their marijuana industry from the feds by creating the equivalent of an enforcement sanctuary.
AB 1578 has not been signed into law, yet the promise of protection under its legal domain go beyond the call of safeguarding, acting in open defiance of the will of the federal government. While California gears up for the recreational industry to unfold, protecting the marijuana industry from the feds teeters on how much local government aid in federal enforcement which, from California’s perspective, is no longer a pressing state issue.