It has been more than 20 years now since California voters voted in favor of Compassionate Use Act. This made the state to be the first one in the U.S to allow its patients to use marijuana. The first two dispensaries will be opened in the city of Santa Monica.
The City Council passed a mandate on Tuesday that established regulations for both medicinal and recreational marijuana. Until a later time, the city council has permitted medicinal marijuana and it has prohibited recreational marijuana.
The already established mandate requires one to make an application and obtain a permit before opening up a dispensary. It only allows cannabis product to be lightly manufactured and should be within the boundaries of the city. The staff of the city will now be forced to select an evaluation committee that will be inspecting the applications
In Santa Monica retailer selection process is expected to commence in the year 2018. The city will be charging a fee of $1,822 and $99 for manufacturers yearly for their dispensaries. Upon receiving the correct state and city permits, the business owner s will pay a $17,000 conditional use permit plus other fees and taxes. Cannabis has been exempted from current sales taxes.
Since the city directive only allows light manufacturing of marijuana, this implies that cannabis-based product will be produced without a retail shop-front.
There are only three areas that the city allows shops to open that is; Santa Monica Boulevard between Lincoln and 20thStreet, Wilshire Boulevard between Lincoln and Centinela Avenue or Santa Monica between 23rd Street and Centinela Avenue. This stores are allowed to grow marijuana but have been restricted to an area tot large than 2,500 square feet.
The shops are not allowed to be within a 600 feet radius of school, social services center, park, library, daycare, or the other cannabis business.
Some entrepreneurs have been rising complains that they cannot find a storefront because the mandate is more prohibitive than what the state law requires.
Shawn Azizzadeh told the Council that the 600 feet restriction is somehow not practical. He further said that he has made tireless efforts in an attempt to find locations that would perfectly fit those requirements but unfortunately he has not been able to find anything that is on the market at the moment.
During the City Council meeting there was not much discussion on the dais over non-medicinal cannabis
Although recreational marijuana is prohibited for now, the City is taking into considerations other possible approaches to amend the Zoning mandate to allow commercial sales of recreational pot.
There was certain study session in March where by the city council leaned towards a preventive approach when opening the door for recreation pots. Council member Sue Himmelrich said that Santa Monica is not desperate for the revenue it could make from recreational pots. However some forecasters say that California legal marijuana economy could quickly escalate to $7 billion.
Jan 1 is when the state will embark on giving out permits for recreational businesses. However, the state has not yet released set of regulations for the new industry. The officials in charge of the rules in California said that it might take them until the end of November before they finish and publish the rules and regulations.
This means that first; they have to get the regulations to start thinking about what it implies at local level just before the holidays begin. The states permits needs local approval before they are termed valid.
Throughout the state, personal use of marijuana will be permitted but local smoking and vaping regulations must be followed. Santa Monica new mandate will restrict all commercial activities including growing, testing, selling and heavy manufacturing of cannabis products
Councilmember Kevin McKeown also said that addition of any discussion of what they will mean for Santa Monica at this point is purely speculative. He further says that they have to a public process to make decisions on what them as a community feel is right to do.
Both Councilmember Kevin McKeown and Tony Vazquez in their last meeting suggested that they would be open to recreational marijuana to take full advantage of the inflow of marijuana tourism. This is because Santa Monica is being surrounded by Los Angeles on three sides hence the neighboring regulations may have an impact on what city leaders opt to do.
The Council has also given a directive to the staff to explore and draft ballot measures that would create a new business license tax classification and rates for various cannabis related businesses. The earliest Santa Monica voters could decide on a proposed measure would be Nov. 2018.