Real Estate/Land Use/Environmental

On June 13, 2023, the Second Appellate District affirmed the City of Pomona’s use of a statutory exemption for its Commercial Cannabis Overlay Permit Program under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines section 15183, finding that the program required no additional environmental review. The decision in Lucas v. City of Pomona is noteworthy for the appellate court’s broad interpretation of the statutory exemption,[1] holding that (i) the City’s zoning ordinance, General Plan Update, and environmental impact report (EIR) that do not address “density” may be exempt under CEQA Guidelines section 15183, and (ii) uses, including cannabis-related uses, that are not literally included in land use plan documents, may be determined to be sufficiently similar to existing and defined land uses allowed by underlying zoning.Continue Reading Commercial Cannabis Permit Program and Overlay District Statutorily Exempt Under CEQA Guideline Section 15183

It is well known that between New York’s enactment of the Marihuana Regulation & Taxation Act (commonly known as the Cannabis Law) on March 31, 2021 and the slower than anticipated adoption of regulations for adult-use cannabis retailers and implementation of the Act there have been few (and in some geographic areas of the state, no) licensed retail dispensaries opened for the sale of adult-use of cannabis and cannabis related products. As a result, there has been a proliferation of unlicensed retailers (often referred to as “sticker shops” because the sale of stickers comes with the “gift” of cannabis products) selling cannabis products and its derivatives. On May 3, 2023, however, with the conclusion of New York State’s annual budget process and the signing of the state budget bill by Governor Hochul, a series of other bills passed by the state Assembly and state Senate were signed into law by the Governor. Among those additional measures are changes to New York’s Cannabis Law[1] which are intended to curtail, among other activities, the unlicensed sale, distribution and storage of cannabis and cannabis products throughout the state. Continue Reading New York Landlords May Get Stuck with the Bill for Unlicensed Cannabis Sticker Shops

California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Health & Safety Code § 25249.5 et seq.) (“Prop 65”) is a California law that prohibits any person in the course of doing business from “knowingly and intentionally expos[ing]” individuals to listed carcinogens and reproductive toxins without adequate warning. Recently, in Environmental Health Advocates, Inc. v. Sream, Inc., 83 Cal. App. 5th 721 (2022), the First District Court of Appeal had the opportunity to interpret the word “expose” as used in Health & Safety Code § 25249.6, concluding that possible indirect contact with a listed Prop 65 chemical, depending on how a consumer chooses to use a product, is insufficient to constitute a cause of action under Prop 65. Continue Reading Up In Smoke – CA Court of Appeal Dismisses Prop 65 Case Against Water Pipe Manufacturer Narrowly Construing The Term “Expose”

For many in the cannabis industry, April 1, 2022 is seen as a day of reckoning following the July 2021 passage of Assembly Bill 141 and Senate Bill 160 (collectively, the Cannabis Trailer Bill).  In an attempt to transition to an annual licensure program, April 1st marked the beginning of the end for provisional cannabis licensure.  It also ushered in significant changes to renewal process for previously granted provisional licenses.  These modifications now require applicants to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Res. Code §§ 21000 et seq.) (CEQA), a complex statewide policy of environmental protection fraught with potential traps for those unversed in the law, before an operator is eligible to be awarded a cannabis state license.  This requirement alone carries the potential to create a much higher barrier to entrance into the cannabis market.
Continue Reading No April Fools: Starting April 1st, Cannabis Operators Face CEQA Compliance Requirements for State Licenses

In Granny Purps v. County of Santa Cruz, the Sixth District Court of Appeal green-lit a medical cannabis cultivator’s ability to pursue damages – to the tune of potentially $3.5M – from the County of Santa Cruz when it determined the County cannot rely on zoning ordinance to seize the cultivator’s plants grown in violation of local regulation. Specifically, the Sixth District found that, while the County is not compelled to return seized property if the property is illegal, the local ordinance at issue “ultimately regulates land use within the County; it does not (nor could it) render illegal a substance that is legal under state law.”
Continue Reading County Zoning Ordinance Cannot be Used to Justify Cannabis Plant Seizure

The viability of California’s cannabis delivery businesses continues to hang in the balance as trial in the landmark litigation between the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) and over two dozen local municipalities was postponed at the eleventh hour. In her tentative ruling, issued the afternoon before the much-anticipated bench trial in County of Santa Cruz v. BCC (County of Fresno Super Court, Case No. 19CECG01224), Judge Rosemary McGuire questioned the ripeness of certain municipalities claims challenging implementation of California Code of Regulations, Title 16, section 5416(d) (Regulation 5416(d)), which allows delivery of cannabis to any jurisdiction within the state.
Continue Reading Long-Awaited Trial in Cannabis Delivery Litigation is Again Postponed Until November

The California Legislature has passed Assembly Bill 1482 – Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“AB 1482”), providing for comprehensive statewide residential rent control and eviction protections.  Signed by
Continue Reading Tenant Protection Act of 2019 May Have Unintended Consequences in the Cannabis Space

California has positioned itself as a leader on emerging cannabis policy. While federal law still prohibits cannabis-related activities within the State’s borders, several largely progressive laws in California permit the
Continue Reading Cannabis Regulation is the New Frontier in Real Estate and Land Use Control