cannabis prohibition ban plant dispensary sales

Can Cities Ban Cannabis Sales In Legal States?

Colorado was one of the first states in the entire United States to legalize cannabis for adult use (2012). Washington State voters also approved an adult-use legalization initiative in the same year, although, Colorado was the first of the two to implement legal adult-use sales. Colorado’s first official legal adult-use sale of cannabis occurred at the start of 2014 whereas Washington’s first legal sale did not occur until the summer of 2014.

A major misconception about legalization efforts is that after a state passes a legalization measure, either via an initiative or legislative action, there is no more work left to be done. Unfortunately, that is absolutely not the case. A successful legalization vote is the end of one cannabis reform effort and the start of one or more other ones. Just because a state legalizes doesn’t mean that sales are allowed statewide, in addition to other lingering policy limitations.

Opting Out Of Cannabis Sales

So far, every state that has legalized cannabis sales for adult use has also afforded its cities and towns an opportunity to ‘opt-out’ of sales. It’s a concept that can also be found in the alcohol industry with ‘dry’ towns, although it’s far less common compared to the cannabis industry. It’s a legal public policy, even if it’s ridiculous and inhumane.

Banning Cannabis Sales After A Vote

Even after the deadline has expired to opt-out, a city in a legal state can still pass a measure after-the-fact to prohibit cannabis sales. A prime example of that can be found in Colorado Springs where the city banned adult-use cannabis sales in 2017 well after sales started in Colorado. Thankfully, activists are working hard there to overturn the ban.

Overturning Bans

Getting rid of cannabis sales bans is part of ‘2.0’ legalization efforts. Another example would be social use reform. Both are examples of how the fight to end cannabis prohibition continues well after a legalization measure is passed and adopted. Activists everywhere need to keep fighting for reform until every patient and consumer has safe access to cannabis and doesn’t have to deal with any persecution or stigma.