Grover Beach is getting closer to finalizing rules for the operation of marijuana businesses, despite a brief setback in February that sent the city’s proposed cannabis district back to the drawing board.
For the better part of a year, Grover Beach has been drafting an extensive ordinance that would regulate commercial marijuana businesses. On Monday, the Grover Beach City Council gave direction on the draft ordinance, emphasizing its desire for safety within the burgeoning green industry.
“The overall sense that I’d like to convey here is making sure that we’re protecting the industry, protecting the community first and making sure that people operate in a reasonable fashion with fire and police protection,” Councilman Jeff Lee said.
Chief among the list of the regulations for businesses would be the requirement to obtain both a state license and a city permit to operate in the city.
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The overall sense that I’d like to convey here is making sure that we’re protecting the industry, protecting the community first, and making sure that people operate in a reasonable fashion with fire and police protection.
Jeff Lee, Grover Beach City Councilman
The state is in the process of setting up its licensing structure for both medical and recreational marijuana businesses, and it’s expected to issue its first licenses in early 2018. City permits would be issued by the Grover Beach city manager or City Council following staff review.
The new regulations would also likely establish background checks for commercial cannabis business workers and owners through the police department. If the check doesn’t reveal anything questionable, the workers would be issued a work permit that they would be required to keep on their person while working.
The city could also prohibit a permit from being given to any establishment where a person on the application had been convicted of a felony in the past 10 years.
Cannabis businesses would also be subject to strict security requirements, such as limiting public entry to one entrance with a secured area, where patrons can be identified before entering the main lobby area, as well as panic buttons, sensors and 24-hour surveillance cameras that are accessible to police.
The regulations are the latest in a series of marijuana-related debates in the city: It has concurrently been working on a new land use policy that would determine where marijuana businesses can operate.
That decision hit a roadblock in February, when the council decided to not conduct a second reading of an ordinance that would have created a 70-acre block of the city as a cannabis business district. Instead, the council directed staff to create a new plan that would allow marijuana businesses in any of the city’s industrial zones.
To date, drafting the various marijuana-related ordinances has cost the city roughly $45,000 for environmental documents associated with the business district, consulting services with a private firm specializing in cannabis law and attorney fees, according to a staff report.
“We are charting new territory,” Mayor John Shoals said Monday at the conclusion of the almost four-hour discussion regarding the regulations.
“It’s hard to be on the leading edge; it’s hard when you don’t have others out there to really follow,” he said. “But then again, that’s what it means to be on the leading edge or pioneering. I think we are doing some good work on this.”
The regulations and land use ordinance are expected to return to the council May 1.
Other key points of Grover Beach’s draft marijuana regulations:
These are subject to change depending on future council decisions.
- If a state license is ever revoked, the local permit will become null, and the licensee will be required to terminate its operations.
- No marijuana or alcohol is allowed to be consumed on the premises.
- No person under 21 will be allowed on the premises.
- The San Luis Obispo County Health Agency will not regulate edible cannabis products, because they are not recognized as an approved food source and are not regulated under the California Retail Food Code.