Think Pot Policy Is Settled? Think Again

CreditCreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

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Saturday — in case you’ve forgotten amid the Mueller report maelstrom — is 4/20.

While the high holiday may feel like a relic now that recreational marijuana is legal, California’s pot policies are far from settled. And this week seemed to be as good a time as any to dig into the complexities of one fight.

This month, The Associated Press reported that a coalition of 25 local governments sued the state’s bureau of cannabis control over a rule that allows home delivery even in cities that do not allow storefront sales.

Mayor John Mirisch of Beverly Hills, one of the cities that filed the lawsuit in Fresno County Superior Court, told me it’s a matter of local control.

[“It was supposed to be made clear that local jurisdictions would be able to regulate cannabis,” he said. “But surprise, surprise, Sacramento’s got something else in store for us.”]

Beverly Hills, he said, made the choice not to allow marijuana retail storefronts — just as it does not have smelting plants.

And while the city does allow medical cannabis delivery, Mr. Mirisch said Beverly Hills should be able to draw the line where it wants. Letting recreational sellers deliver, he said, could encourage “a ‘Cheech and Chong’ situation” to flourish, particularly at the city’s famed hotels.

AnnaRae Grabstein, the chief compliance officer for the grower and distributor NorCal Cannabis, disagreed.

“I recognize that the law was written in a way to give local control over land use,” she said, “but we also think that safe and equal access is important to protect.”

NorCal Cannabis has about 500 employees working in growing operations, processing, packaging and distribution, Ms. Grabstein said, and the company has raised as much as $76 million in investment.

In order to grow that business, she said, consumers need to be able to safely access legal product. Banning delivery — which ensures that a broader range of consumers can get pot — will just send people back to the illegal market, she said. And as a result, that elusive legal marijuana tax windfall will continue to be, well, elusive.

Read about why the state’s legal marijuana market hasn’t been the tax boon proponents promised.

But Ryan Coonerty, chairman of the Santa Cruz County board of supervisors, said the reality was more nuanced for many communities.

Santa Cruz County joined the lawsuit, he said, not because officials there are concerned about the ramifications of wider recreational marijuana access, but to protect established local growers and distributors from big, out-of-town companies that are just now jumping into the market.

“It’s supporting local business,” he said. “They’re an important part of our local economy and we have developed our own rules for our local needs and we want those to be respected in our community.”

Mr. Coonerty said “it’s interesting” to be grouped with jurisdictions that don’t want recreational cannabis. Nevertheless, he said, he read the passage of Proposition 64 as giving clear authority to local governments.

“I want these other communities to expand access,” he said. “But I believe it should be done above board.”

The state’s bureau of cannabis control declined to comment because the lawsuit is pending.

[Read about weed’s new crop of consumers.]

(We often link to sites that limit access for nonsubscribers. We appreciate your reading Times stories, but we’d also encourage you to support local news if you can.)

CreditCharlie Neibergall/Associated Press

• In an interview with the podcast “Pod Save America,” Senator Kamala Harris expressed regret over a policy that punished parents for students’ truancy. The move comes as Ms. Harris faces scrutiny over her record as a prosecutor. [Politico]

 A rapid rehousing program in L.A. is helping people who are experiencing homelessness. But will it make a dent in the long term? [KCRW]

 When Shannon Bigley was killed by a Caltrans-operated frontloader as she slept at a homeless encampment last year, she was alone. But her family said she was a loving “flower child” who had made mistakes but was trying to get her children back. They are suing Caltrans. [The Modesto Bee]

• The Summer Olympics aren’t coming to L.A. until 2028, but its local organizing committee has already announced a comprehensive advertising partnership with NBCUniversal. The deal gives the company uncommon power over the marketing of the Games in the U.S. [The New York Times]

In big tech news:

• In an industry that celebrates eccentricity, Susan Wojcicki presents as exceedingly normal. Here’s how she came to run the internet’s most chaotic place: YouTube. [The New York Times]

 It’s been a rough 15 months for Facebook. Here’s an inside look at everything that’s happened. [Wired]

• Meanwhile, amid criticism that it hasn’t done enough to stop the spread of misinformation about vaccines, a measles case hit Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters. [BuzzFeed News]

CreditKelsey Dake

• In spite of waning appetite for money-losing tech companies that go public, there seems to be healthy demand for Pinterest, which priced its shares at $19 each for its initial public offering. [The New York Times]

• “Beach Blanket Babylon,” the big-hatted San Francisco spectacle, is closing after 45 years. “I just felt it was time,” its producer said. [The New York Times]

• Keanu Reeves is at the top of the driveway of the Chateau Marmont, smoking a cigarette as if he’s on his front porch. He’s been going there since the ’90s, when he was a different generation’s version of Keanu Reeves. [GQ]

CreditBill Owens

The hills around Altamont roll on and on. Drive through and it’s peaceful. It’s hard to imagine that 50 years ago, the Altamont Speedway was where the free-loving 1960s died.

That’s when the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead hosted an impromptu concert that went horrifically awry. One person was killed by members of the Hells Angels who had been hired as security and three other people died.

I’d heard of Altamont, but I don’t think I’d ever seen pictures. These photos by Bill Owens, a reluctant concertgoer, show the scale of the event — 300,000 people were estimated to have attended — not to mention the fashions and those hills.

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Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.