The West Hollywood Planning Commission tonight voiced its support for allowing the distribution of medical marijuana with the provision that distributors be licensed or otherwise regulated.
The commission was asked to approve a proposal to ban commercial cannabis activities and medical marijuana collectives from residential areas while continuing to let qualified patients and their caregivers grow cannabis for their own medical use. The proposal, drafted by the city’s Community Development and Public Works departments, also would prohibited deliveries of marijuana both within West Hollywood and to and from WeHo.
“It’s going to happen whether or not we regulate,” said Commissioner David Aghaei of distribution of medical marijuana. “Approving it subject to certain conditions and regulations, at least it’s under our thumb.”
Commissioner Sue Buckner noted that some other businesses, including marijuana dispensaries, must have licenses from the city to operate. She suggested the city could require licenses of delivery services as well.
Initially there was a tight deadline — March 1 — for the City Council to approve a local regulation of cannabis if it wanted to retain the authority to issue licenses for growing medical marijuana. Otherwise that authority would have been held solely by the State of California, which must also approve licenses granted by the city. Changes also must be made in WeHo’s business license ordinance.
But Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill removing the March 1 deadline, which legislators said had been an error. Last October Brown signed three bills collectively known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA). Among its many provisions, MMRSA requires that marijuana dispensaries and cultivators obtain a local license before seeking one from the state if the city or county has land use regulations or ordinances regulating or prohibiting the cultivation of marijuana. While West Hollywood does have laws regulating the growth and dispensing of marijuana, the municipal code does not prohibit the commercial cultivation of marijuana within residential zones or the delivery of marijuana within West Hollywood. There appears to be little commercial cultivation of marijuana in West Hollywood neighborhoods, where there are few if any large and open tracts of land. However the ban on delivery could affect companies such as Nestdrop, which has developed an app for ordering marijuana delivery on your smart phone and operates across the west side of greater Los Angeles..
A memo to the Planning Commission from Community Development and Public Works noted that mobile dispensaries have been the targets of armed robbers seeking cash and drugs in both Los Angeles and Orange counties. It also argued that growing cannabis inside buildings has resulted in damages that include “improper and dangerous electrical alternations and use, inadequate ventilation leading to mold and mildew, as well as an increase in the frequency of home-invasion robberies and similar crimes.