City's Economic Development and Technology Committee Takes Hard Look at Marijuana Laws, City Regulations

Published : Monday, August 21, 2017 | 7:55 PM

The Pasadena City Council’s Economic Development and Technology Committee will deliberate Wednesday the potential revisions to the City’s existing regulations on marijuana in relation to a new state law that legalizes recreational marijuana.

During a special meeting Wednesday, the Committee will be briefed by the Department of Planning and Community Development staff about the implications of Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), on local regulations.

The Committee is expected to provide guidance on at least three issues: commercial marijuana use, personal outdoor cultivation of the plant, and taxation for any commercial sale and cultivation of marijuana in the City.

California voters passed Proposition 64 during the November 2016 ballot, legalizing the recreational use of nonmedical marijuana by individuals 21 years old or older, and allowing small-scale personal cultivation throughout the state.

The initiative also allowed retail sales and other commercial marijuana activity and established regulatory and taxing schemes for non-medical marijuana activities.

Last June, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 94, also known as the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, which eliminated a previously established licensing scheme where applicants were required to obtain a local license or permit to operate a marijuana business before being issued a state license.

Under SB 94, the state is merely required to notify the local jurisdiction about an application from a prospective marijuana business, and wait for the local agency to certify whether the applicant complies with local ordinances. If the local jurisdiction fails to respond within 60 days, a presumption is made that the applicant is compliant with local ordinances.

Beginning January 1, 2018, state licensing authorities may issue temporary licenses for up to 120 days if the applicant is able to provide a valid local license, permit or other authorization that he or she can conduct commercial marijuana activity at the location applied for.

In a memorandum to the EDTech Committee, Planning and Community Development Director David Reyes said based on Proposition 64, the City has several options with regard to the permissible commercial uses and the personal outdoor cultivation or marijuana: it can prohibit these practices outright, it can temporarily prohibit them to allow for the rollout of state licensing and regulation procedures and to learn from best practices in other jurisdictions, or it can allow and adopt land use regulations by January 1, 2018.

The City held three community meetings in April to inform the public about AUMA and solicit public feedback. Most of the public’s comments were in favor of allowing and regulating commercial marijuana activity, although some residents spoke out against allowing such businesses because of the negative impact on neighborhoods.

Following the meetings, the City’s Planning Commission came out with some recommendations including limiting the hours of operation of retail-sale marijuana businesses to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. only, locating the retail outlets to a central location and limiting the number of outlets to a small number, and reviewing current federal enforcement guidelines to understand the federal boundaries.

Historically, the City of Pasadena has prohibited medical marijuana dispensaries within City limits. Recent cases ordering the closure of such dispensaries affirmed that the cultivation of commercial marijuana is not a permitted use under the City’s permissive zoning.

Analyzing the possible options for the City, the Planning and Community Department said if the City wishes to continue to prohibit, or otherwise regulate, commercial non-medical marijuana businesses, it should amend the Zoning Code to institutionalize such actions and not simply rely on the current “permissive zoning” language.

With state departments not being ready to issue permits until January, the Planning Department said the City has enough time to consider and establish policies and regulations for commercial uses.

The EDTech Committee’s special meeting on Wednesday starts at 5:30 p.m. at Council Chambers Room S249 at the Pasadena City Hall. Public comment on matters not on the agenda is allowed right after roll call.





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