Santa Monicans have long pooh-poohed pot in their city, but this counter-cannabis attitude could soon be changing as City Council has indicated an interest in legalizing the recreational sale of marijuana.
In 2017, shortly after recreational weed was legalized statewide, Santa Monica passed an ordinance restricting local sales to medicinal purposes. This ordinance only allows for two dispensaries to operate, lays out strict rules for where they may be located and requires hefty permitting fees. So far, no dispensary has been able to open in this highly regulated environment, although two businesses are in the works.
The ordinance is set to expire in 2023, at which point Council may vote to extend it or consider expanding it to include recreational sales. Currently, it appears that Council is more interested in the latter.
In a May 10 Council meeting, the five members present voted unanimously to support a motion directing the City Manager’s Office to prepare a study session on allowing the sale of non-medicinal cannabis.
“We were looking at how much revenue is being lost to neighboring Los Angeles and we started talking about what can we do you know to provide more access for those residents that benefit from cannabis and also to bring our policies up to the times,” said Councilmember Oscar de la Torre. “Los Angeles has a recreational policy, Santa Monica still has an archaic policy of having to deliver a doctor’s note in order to have access to cannabis.”
The upcoming study session will include options on potential dispensary locations, the permitting process, expanding the maximum number of businesses allowed and ways to make the cannabis business accessible to low-income individuals and communities most impacted by the criminalization of cannabis. It will also include information on allowing for larger-scale cannabis events in specific areas, such as a potential Cannabis trade show/convention in the Barker Hanger.
During the discussion period, Councilmember De la Torre suggested the City also consider allowing recreational cannabis delivery businesses.
“We do also have a very strong appetite to ensure that there’s an equity provision so that individuals that have had problems with the law get second opportunities to enter the business as well and maybe delivery might be a cheaper way for them to participate,” said de la Torre.
Published: May 18, 2022
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