State legislation could make cannabis more accessible in cities, counties that have banned retailers

(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

New state legislation authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, could make cannabis more accessible throughout the state, Ting's office announced Thursday.

If passed, Assembly Bill 1356 would require local jurisdictions in California to issue one cannabis retail license for every four onsite liquor consumption licenses, like bar and restaurants.

However, the bill would only apply to jurisdictions where more than 50 percent of voters supported Proposition 64 back in 2016, legalizing recreational adult cannabis use.

"Californians voted for Prop. 64 to replace the illicit market with a legal system that would grant Californians safe access to cannabis products, while also creating good jobs and significant tax revenue," Ting said in a news release.

"However, these goals can only be fully realized if enough licenses are granted to meet existing demand. This bill will ensure the legal market can succeed," he said.

According to Ting's office, since Prop. 64 went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, about 76 percent of California cities and counties have banned cannabis retail businesses.

The lack of access results in people who use cannabis, like caregivers and those who suffer from a variety of ailments like cancer, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder among others, having to travel far to get it.

"Many cities and counties are currently not providing this access to their medically challenged constituents, even when a majority of their constituents voted for Prop. 64. Banning and limiting access to cannabis in these jurisdictions only fuels the illicit market in our state," said Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, D-South Los Angeles, who co-authored AB 1356 with Ting.

According to Ting's office, AB 1356 allows local jurisdictions that don't want to meet the 1-to-4 ratio to come up with a local ban on the ballot for the next scheduled election.

The bill is scheduled to be heard April 23 at the State Assembly's Business and Professions Committee.