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How Many California Jurisdictions Will Allow Commercial Cannabis Come January 1?

Richard Vogel / AP / File

In this Sunday, April 23, 2017 file photo large jars of marijuana are on display for sale at the Cali Gold Genetics booth during the High Times Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino, Calif.

Richard Vogel / AP / File

There are fewer than 10 days to go before California launches its legal marketplace for the retail sale of recreational marijuana.

How smoothly that transition goes will depend on how many cities and counties opt in to allow commercial cannabis business in their jurisdictions.  

At this stage, it’s unclear what that number is.

The state's Bureau of Cannabis Control hasn’t released a list of jurisdictions moving forward with cannabis regulations. Neither has the League of California Cities nor the California State Association of Counties.

But Sacramento-based cannabis licensing consultant Jackie McGowan has her own tally. She estimates a third of California’s local governments are ready to get in the commercial cannabis game as of this week.

"Thirty percent of the state is a massive increase from this time last year, when it was probably more about 15 percent," says McGowan. 

According to McGowan, 161 California municipalities either have cannabis ordinances in place, are working on them, or have granted exemptions from their jurisdiction-wide bans to individual businesses.

California's six largest cities have opted in to the commercial cannabis marketplace: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno and Sacramento. Together, they comprise more than a fifth of the state's population.

McGowan began tracking local cannabis regulations in 2015 after California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) into law. She set up separate Google email alerts for every city and county in California with key words like “Novato,” “cannabis,” and “regulate” or “ban.”

McGowan says, lately, her inbox has been flooded with up to 500 emails a day.

Last week, the state started issuing temporary licenses for cannabis retailers, distributors, testing laboratories and microbusinesses.

Bureau of Cannabis Control spokesman Alex Traverso says temporary licenses will be effective for 120 days beginning January 1, 2018.

Cannabis growers may apply for a temporary license from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, but the agency has not yet started issuing licenses.

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified the year that Jackie McGowan began tracking the cannabis ordinances of California municipalities.

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