WEHOville

WeHo City Council to Vote Monday on Permitting Recreational Marijuana Stores

Sat, Nov 04, 2017   By Staff   

The West Hollywood City Council on Monday will consider adopting changes to existing city ordinances that would allow a quadrupling of the number of marijuana retailers and medical dispensaries in WeHo, currently home to four of the latter.

Another eight licenses will be available to cannabis delivery services in WeHo. Services based outside of West Hollywood also would have to obtain a license to deliver within the city limits.

To ensure a variety of businesses, no applicant can obtain more than one license for a retail shop or a medical dispensary. Holders of retail shop licenses, however, may apply for a medical dispensary license and vice versa. All shops and dispensaries may be in business from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

The Council’s action is in response to the passage of Proposition 64 in November 2016, which allows adults 21 and older to smoke or ingest marijuana, as well as purchase and possess up to 28.5 grams of un-concentrated recreational cannabis and up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis. The law also allows California residents to grow up to six cannabis plants for personal use. Individual cities are allowed to regulate cannabis sales and distribution, however if such regulations aren’t in place by Jan. 1, state laws supersede them.

On Monday the Council will consider allowing licenses for the following types of marijuana or cannabis businesses, each of which also will have to obtain a state license:

— Eight licenses for medical-use dispensaries, also described as medical marijuana collectives, where cannabis legally must be sold by prescription to individuals 18 years of age or older or to their primary caregivers. There currently are four such dispensaries in West Hollywood. While it is a violation of the law, medical dispensary prescriptions are easily available at at least one WeHo dispensary without an evaluation by a doctor, effectively putting it into competition with the new retail cannabis shops.

— Eight licenses for adult-use cannabis shops, which are places where cannabis products and devices such as pipes or vapes are offered for sale or delivery to those 21 years old or older.

— Sixteen licenses for cannabis consumption areas, which are places where those 21 or older can consume cannabis on-site, such as a smoking lounge. There would be up to eight licenses for smoking marijuana on site and eight licenses for eating cannabis products on site. However, the smoking and eating can only be done at locations that also have retail or medical licenses to sell cannabis products on site.

— Eight licenses for cannabis delivery services, which include deliveries by vehicles from retailers or dispensaries to the homes of buyers.

— Cannabis indoor commercial cultivation (only as an ancillary use to a retail/dispensary location).

— Cannabis manufacturing (as an ancillary use to a retail/dispensary use), which involves extracting or compounding and blending cannabis products to create cannabis candies and other products.

— Cannabis testing laboratories (allowed by right in the zoning ordinance). Theses are labs that perform tests on cannabis offered for medical or recreational use that are licensed by the state Bureau of Cannabis Control.

The city would not permit stand-alone cannabis cultivation facilities (both indoor and outdoor), stand-alone cannabis manufacturing facilities or stand-alone cannabis distributers based within WeHo.

The proposed ordinance changes would restrict the locations of cannabis shops and lounges and dispensaries in several ways:

— Medical-use dispensaries will not be allowed within a 600-foot radius of daycare facilities, youth centers or schools located within or outside the city in compliance with state law, which is currently the situation.

— Permits will not be granted for cannabis businesses or dispensaries in residential areas, near city parks or in the Pacific Design Center specific plan area

The city is expected to open the application process on Jan. 2, 2018. Applications would be evaluated by a committee composed of at least three people with experience in either city government or the cannabis industry and with no business interests in the City of West Hollywood. Among the factors evaluated would be:

— Previous adult-use retail, medical-use dispensing, or consumption area experience in a regulated state or other similarly regulated state market (i.e. alcohol sales).
— Ability to demonstrate the quality of cannabis strains and derivative product offerings.

— Employee training, standard operating procedures, online ordering systems, and procedures for providing cannabis to disadvantaged or disabled persons.

— Social equity in terms of provision of a living wage and benefits and compliance with local, state, and federal employee non-discrimination policies.

— A comprehensive and effective security program.

— Pre-existing West Hollywood cannabis business that has no outstanding code violations with the city and is in compliance with local and state laws.

— Ability to meet City of West Hollywood urban design standards.

Applicants cannot have felony convictions, drug-related misdemeanor convictions (other than involving cannabis or pending criminal charges or convictions of any type (other than cannabis-related).

The City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., south of Santa Monica. Parking in the five-story structure behind the Council Chambers is free with a ticket validated at the Council meeting.

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