Northern California

Marijuana to be focus of special Walnut Creek council session

WALNUT CREEK — A special City Council meeting Tuesday night is set to address issues related to marijuana, including what aspects of its sale and use should be allowed in the city, and which shouldn’t.

That session begins at 6 p.m. in the council chamber at City Hall, 1666 N. Main St.

In May, during a discussion about marijuana and Walnut Creek’s civic role in the post-Prop. 64 landscape, the council asked the city staff for more information on several specific topics, including the status of the state law on medical and recreational marijuana, the financial consequences of various courses of action, the perspective of the business community regarding cultivation and retail sales, and how Contra Costa County and other cities are regulating recreational marijuana cultivation and businesses.

The city staff report says that, for example, if the city allowed two retail establishments, one non-sworn staffer would need to be hired, at a cost of about $100,000 a year. If the council chooses to allow outdoor personal and/or indoor commercial cultivation connected to retail operations, an additional sworn officer, at $200,000 per year would have to be hired. There would also likely be additional staff costs to process conditional use permits for marijuana-related businesses.

The city also could expect some level of sales tax revenue, other tax revenue (local voter-approved taxes, for instance) and possibly grant money for help pay for police officers and training them for the new legalized marijuana world should marijuana-related businesses be allowed.

The average retail medical marijuana dispensary in Contra Costa County generates about $2.5 million in gross income, subject to being taxed.

There will be no decisions made Tuesday about whether to allow marijuana businesses; the city staff wants the council to consider, and to then direct the staff on how the city should regulate marijuana. For more specifics, go to the city’s website.


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