Sausalito, Marin County restrict businesses while Santa Rosa aspires to ‘mecca’ status
In 2016, California voters legalized recreational cannabis for adults, setting off a rush of entrepreneurs who wanted to enter the newly legal market.
Legalization was intended to uplift people impacted by decades of cannabis criminalization, but the rollout has not been the same across the state. Local governments are allowed to decide whether to allow cannabis businesses to operate, resulting in a complicated patchwork of regulations.
Cannabis industry-insiders often argue that the extensive permitting processes and regulations lock out many of the people legalization was meant to help, leaving the business opportunities to those with the money and political savvy to reap the benefits of legalized weed.
A version of this dynamic is playing out in the North Bay. While Santa Rosa, Sonoma County’s largest city, has embraced cannabis businesses as a new tax revenue source, Marin County and its cities have hindered the spread of brick-and-mortar weed businesses.
It’s ironic that Marin ordinances ban recreational cannabis storefronts, as the county lays claim to being the home of the first licensed marijuana dispensary in the nation. The Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana opened in Fairfax in