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Local ballot measures across California could significantly expand marijuana industry footprint

The November election offers the prospect that California’s legal cannabis industry footprint could expand significantly, depending on a couple of dozen local ballot measures.

According to research by Hirsh Jain, government affairs director at San Jose-based retailer Caliva, and California NORML Deputy Director Ellen Komp, at least 26 localities across California will have pro-marijuana initiatives on the ballot.

Jain estimates those measure could result in as many as 150 new business permits being made available to the industry.

“You could credibly say like 100 or 150 licenses will result … within months of these passing,” Jain said, noting the election could have a “staggering impact” on the legal industry, including roughly 50 retail permits that could be awarded.

The ballot measures vary:

  • Many would authorize new business licenses or expand existing local industries.
  • Others merely seek voter approval for new cannabis taxes, often the starting point for cities and counties looking to opt into the industry since new taxes have to be approved by voters under California law.
  • Still other measures are advisory questions that don’t bind city councils or county officials to repealing existing industry bans.

If nothing else, Jain said, the election will keep momentum rolling for more localities to embrace the legal cannabis market.

“There’s a fundamental shift” happening across California, Jain said, with many cities and counties closely watching their neighbors to see how the legal marijuana industry has developed. Many have reached a tipping point.

“In the next 30-36 months, all of the chess pieces on the board are going to fill up. California will not be a cannabis desert,” Jain predicted.

Below is a summary of localities and their related marijuana ballot measures.