SAND CITY — Sand City is in the process of taking the temperature of its citizens on the subject of commercial cannabis activity. The results from a recent survey are being tabulated and two future workshops are planned to gather more feedback to possibly pave the way for the city to get a piece of the pot tax pie in Monterey County.
The legalization of recreational marijuana in California in 2016 makes it possible for every city in the state to create its own cannabis laws and regulations. Earlier this year, Sand City issued its commercial cannabis survey with a deadline date for completion of March 12.
“They are in, and I should have everything tabulated by next week,” said City Manager Aaron Blair. “We still need to have a couple of workshops to gather additional public feedback in April, then I should have everything to council for them to discuss in May.”
California voters passed Proposition 64 in November 2016, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in the state. Voters had already legalized medical marijuana with the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996.
Proposition 64 allows each municipality to decide if and how commercial cannabis retail, manufacturing, cultivation, events and testing should be conducted in their communities.
In Monterey County, Del Rey Oaks was the first city to open a medical marijuana dispensary in 2015 and that same year Salinas had its first pot edibles manufacturing plant established and now has a growing number of cannabis operations within the city. The Salinas Valley cities of Gonzales, Greenfield and King City have also adopted cannabis activity ordinances.
The city of Monterey is reconsidering its stance on commercial cannabis that prohibits it and Pacific Grove recently adopted then rescinded an ordinance allowing retail cannabis. Seaside has an ordinance allowing retail cannabis and multiple storefronts in the city, while Marina approved three applications for cannabis dispensaries last year after voters approved an ordinance in 2018.
The annual cannabis tax revenue to Monterey County has increased from $5.5 million in the 2017-2018 fiscal year to $14.8 million in 2018-2019 and was expected to increase to $16 million in 2019-2020.
Since the cannabis industry went into high gear in January 2018, California has raised $1 billion in cannabis tax revenue, according to figures released in early 2020.
At its Feb. 2, 2020, City Council meeting, a proposed “Roadmap to Cannabis” was provided by city staff and direction was given to begin collecting stakeholder feedback to assist the council in determining whether to amend the city’s municipal code to allow commercial cannabis activities in Sand City.
The city is seeking additional input from the community to help guide the process with the addition of two workshops planned.
Blair said the survey was open and targeted to Sand City residents and businesses. He reported that more than 60 surveys were completed among a populace of about 300 people. Though Blair views the participation in the survey as “decent,” the city plans on two more workshops in April to gather more feedback.
The workshops will basically open the floor to further collect information about general views on commercial cannabis activities in Sand City, locations for storefront cannabis retailers, the number of cannabis permits, community concerns and other types of cannabis operations.
No dates have yet been set for the workshops but Blair expects the council to conduct them within the next few weeks with the updated information presented to the City Council in late May.
“People are leaning towards being OK with (commercial cannabis) but there are concerns with public safety, parking and limiting the number of locations, too,” said Blair of preliminary results from the survey. “It’s not overwhelming one way or the other.”