Southern California

Commercial marijuana businesses get a green light in Carson

Carson opened its doors to commercial marijuana growing, testing and manufacturing during a special meeting Thursday.

The City Council also approved licensing door-to-door delivery operations and added restrictions on personal-use cultivation allowed by the state beginning Jan. 1, requiring random home inspections.

Council members stopped short of approving marijuana dispensaries, but agreed to allow four locations in the city for indoor commercial operations including growing and manufacturing of oils, waxes and edibles.

The ordinance was approved in a 3-1 vote, with Councilman Cedric Hicks opposing. Councilwoman Lula Davis-Holmes left the meeting early. Final adoption is scheduled for the council’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 21.

Councilman Jawane Hilton attributed his support for the ordinance to a resident-initiated ballot measure in Long Beach that forced a reversal of a City Council ban and allowed dozens of dispensaries to move in.

“Long Beach has 36 dispensaries, cultivation and manufacturing because no one could come up with a consensus. I know that all of you may be shocked and saddened, but regulation is the most important thing to do. If you don’t regulate this market, the market will be saturated.”

Council members agreed to allow commercial businesses in four locations that are at least 750 feet away from “sensitive uses,” including schools, hotels and parks. The city will choose which ones are allowed based on their permit applications — but dispensaries and outdoor growing operations will not be permitted.

They will also be subject to city inspections, and must limit odors and clean up litter around their operations.

“We want to encourage quality people to apply,” said Hilton, who initially supported medical marijuana dispensaries but later changed his mind. “I believe that if we regulate cannabis, it’s better than banning it. I think flat-out bans bring more trouble to the city than they’re worth.”

Marijuana reviews: Fitness-aid strains and products

More than 64 percent of Carson voters approved a municipal tax of 18 percent of gross receipts on all cannabis-related businesses last year, as well as a $25-per-square-foot fee on space used for cultivation.

Mayor Al Robles advocated for up to eight locations for commercial operations, and for dispensaries, but did not receive support on Thursday.

“We had an illegal dispensary two blocks from here that was subsequently shut down,” Robles said. “And guess who paid for it? The city. Anyone who thinks there aren’t others has their head in the sand. We can’t pretend Carson is drug-free. It’s not legal here now, but residents complain that how kids are smoking it at high schools and in the parks. We proclaim ourselves as a drug-free city but those are just words.”

State law allows residents to grow up to six plants at their homes beginning Jan. 1, when voter-approved Proposition 64 goes into effect, allowing recreational marijuana use and cultivation.

Council members further restricted that by requiring that personal plants be grown inside and behind a locked door.

Residents also will be subject to home inspections when they obtain a permit to ensure the plants are not in view of minors, and that they meet all regulations, including that neighbors can’t see or smell them.

Council members also required that the homes of permit holders be randomly inspected — even though City Attorney Sunny Soltani said that rule likely would not hold up if challenged in court. Violators will be subject to a $500 administrative fee.

Robles argued for marijuana-delivery services, saying the city can’t stop them from operating legally within its limits.

“They’re moving through the city anyway so we want to license it,” Robles said.

But Hicks opposed all the changes.

“You’re allowing them to come in and deliver to Joe Blow’s house,” Hicks said. “Your making the city a destination to drop off.”


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