(Reason) Given how often California’s regulatory state ensnares mundane things like plastic straws and apartment buildings, it should come as no surprise that the state’s now-legal recreational cannabis industry is having a hell of a time navigating a new world of red tape and restrictions. Causing particular grief is one of the Golden State’s more infamous laws: the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Passed in 1970 and signed into law by famed anti-pot scold and then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, CEQA has developed a reputation as the NIMBY’s weapon of choice for killing off disfavored developments. The law is now being used to frustrate cannabis entrepreneurs who are trying to go legit.
“I like to call [CEQA] the silent killer,” says Pamela Epstein, an environmental lawyer and founder of the cannabis consultancy firm Green Wise. Other cannabis consultants have said the law could cause an “extinction event” for the cannabis industry.