Using Local Ballot Measures to Open a Cannabis Business

Man voting in light colored room

Using Local Ballot Measures to Open a Cannabis Business

Dec 14 2022, by Jessica McElfresh in Marijuana Business

As public acceptance of cannabis becomes more widespread, more business opportunities are presenting themselves in California. However, you can’t just set up a shop and start dispensing cannabis immediately. There are laws you’ll need to follow, like opening a store in a properly zoned area or taking the proper measures to grow cannabis on your property.

You’ll be able to remedy legal issues with a ballot initiative.

How Do You Get an Initiative on a Ballot?

There are several steps to take before you can get an initiative made into a law. Before making any changes, you’ll need to ensure you’re following the proper procedure. For instance, although statewide regulations exist, each city and county can customize its cannabis zoning laws.

What Laws Need Updating?

Once you have identified where you’d like to start your cannabis business, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the existing laws and regulations for the areas.

Before you get started, look at whether the business is far enough away from schools and parks. There may be limits on the number of businesses that can operate in a municipality. Some areas regulate production practices — like watering standards or legal fertilizers. Cannabis business could be prohibited altogether.

Once you know what needs to be changed for your business plan, you can start looking at your initiative’s language.

How to Properly Draft Your Initiative

Deciding what the approved initiative will enforce determines what your initiative needs to say. Your initiative should ask a question in clear language that the voters will answer. For instance, if you’d like to increase the number of cannabis businesses permitted in your municipality, your initiative should be written so that voters will allow more businesses if they approve it.

Once you have the draft written, you’ll submit your initiative to the Secretary of State for approval, along with a $2,000 filing fee. That fee will be refunded should your initiative qualify for the ballot.

The SOS office has an example of a statewide initiative, but you should look for your local board of elections for a sample you can consider following. If the SOS approves your draft, they’ll create an official title and a summary.

Creating a Petition and Gathering Signatures

Once you have an initiative drafted with approved language, you are required to gather the signatures of registered voters using a petition. The number of signatures required for each municipality will vary, but it’s generally based on the number of voters that participated in the latest gubernatorial election.

Your local board of elections will be able to answer your questions about the petition. Once you’ve reached the minimum number of signatures, you’ll turn the petition over to the BOE so the signatures can be verified. If it qualifies, the initiative will head to the ballot.

The Election: Your Initiative Faces Voter Approval

After your initiative is qualified for the ballot, you’ll be able to campaign. That includes advertising, placing posters or roadside signs, and media ads. Depending on how controversial your initiative is, there could even be a debate ahead of the election.

It will be up to voters to approve or deny the initiative. There will be a period before the initiative takes effect if it passes.

Turn to Experienced Business Counsel

Although using a lawyer to write your initiative isn’t necessary, it is in your best interest to turn to someone with the knowledge and experience dealing with California’s marijuana and business laws when considering changing laws.

The help of someone who can help you draft the language needed to begin operating a cannabis business the right way in California could make all the difference. California Marijuana Lawyer Jessica McElfresh is a passionate marijuana advocate with knowledge surrounding licensing, permitting, compliance, and lawful operations of a marijuana business.

She can help you identify the laws you want to change, from zoning to growing to delivery. Jessica has assisted several businesses in the marijuana industry get sprouted.

Call McElfresh Law today at (858) 756-7107 or schedule an appointment online.