EL CERRITO –– Though the effort is being described as “a work in progress,” El Cerrito has set the ground rules for a pair of cannabis dispensaries that will be allowed after recreational marijuana use becomes legal in California next year.
The action taken by the City Council Tuesday marks an end to the lengthy process of repealing a 2006 ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries and allowing cannabis sales within the city.
El Cerrito will issue permits to two dispensary operators who will be allowed to sell cannabis and cannabis-related products as well as deliver the cannabis to customers within the city.
The operators will undergo background checks, provide a business plan and a security plan, and offer community benefits as part of the application process.
Cannabis smoking and consumption will be banned within the dispensaries and measures to protect cannabis supplies and limit the amount of cash stored on the premises will be required as part of the security plan.
The dispensaries must be located on San Pablo Avenue and be more than 600 feet from parks and schools and 1,000 feet from other cannabis businesses among extensive other requirements.
The ordinance passed on a 4-1 vote with Councilman Greg Lyman opting to hold out for limiting dispensary sales to cannabis edibles and other products that don’t involve smoking.
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“I won’t vote for anything that increases the amount of smoking in El Cerrito,” Lyman said. “Edibles are better regulated and better consumed.”
Cannabis smoking will be governed by the city’s Smoking Pollution Protection ordinance aimed at limiting and curtailing second-hand tobacco smoke.
Councilwoman Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto in summary said that “there are many things we’re going to have to revisit,” including the rule prohibiting cannabis consumption at the dispensaries and another banning outdoor cultivation of cannabis plants at residences.
The council will consider the ordinance a second time at its Dec. 19 meeting and, if passed, it could take effect as soon as Jan. 18, after Prop. 64, the state law legalizing recreational cannabis use goes into effect on Jan. 1.
More than 70 percent of El Cerrito voters approved Prop. 64 on the November, 2016 ballot.
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