Residents of San Mateo, California, an affluent region in the heart of Silicon Valley, voted overwhelmingly (63 to 37 percent) to legalize marijuana for recreational use at the state level. But now that the measure has passed, the county’s Board of Supervisors has opted to put legalization on hold within its own jurisdiction. The San Mateo Daily Journal reports:
The board met Tuesday to enact a moratorium on outdoor marijuana growing as well as commercial operations in response to voters approving Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state.
The temporary ban will initially last for 45 days and could be extended to two years, but the end goal is to study potential regulations and attempt to create a more regional approach. Getting feedback from stakeholders may assist the county in forming a blueprint law cities in the county could adopt.
San Mateo isn’t the only liberal Bay Area region to support different policies at the state and county level. Ahead of the November vote on Prop. 64, the San Jose City Council responded to concerns about the effect the measure might have on the local community by moving to ban marijuana sales within city limits.
Of course, there are legitimate reasons why a county or city government might want to postpone marijuana legalization to develop its own particular taxes and regulations. But the proliferation of strict new weed regulations across liberal Bay Area towns as the state prepares to unleash a commercial marijuana industry suggests that NIMBYism is at work, too.
Many social libertarians support the idea of legal marijuana in the abstract, but would prefer if most of the dispensaries and habitual users they attract were concentrated in other parts of the state. It would be unfortunate, but not entirely surprising, if affluent Bay Area counties carried Prop. 64 to victory, only to have the bulk of the social impact of the drug born by the state’s poorer regions.