A week after giving itself 10 months and 15 days to get marijuana regulations on the books, the San Bernardino City Council got its first look at ordinances for commercial cannabis businesses, personal cultivation and public consumption.
The byproduct of public input, recommendations of a cannabis advisory committee, suggestions from cannabis consultant HdL and staff insight, the regulations would replace Measure O – tentatively ruled invalid by a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge late last year – as law.
The judge’s final, written decision is expected soon.
The public will have two chances to weigh-in on the proposed regulations: at a Feb. 13 Planning Commission meeting and a Feb. 21 City Council meeting.
The council is scheduled to conduct a second reading of the ordinances March 7, with a tentative effective date of April 7.
Discussed at length Wednesday evening, the regulations are comprehensive and address public health, safety and welfare issues.
Commercial cannabis businesses
There will be only one commercial cannabis business permitted per 12,500 residents – a maximum of 17 for all types: dispensaries, cultivation facilities, testing labs, et al. The original draft allowed 1 per 10,000 (or 21), but the council sought to limit the cap to assess the volume of initial applicants.
The council can limit the number of each type of business and can increase, decrease or keep the cap the same over time.
Permits will be awarded via an in-the-works, merit-based point system that rewards responsible operators. Permits must be renewed every 12 months and can be revoked should owners violate city or state law.
Top applicants will be presented to the City Council for final approval at a public hearing. Hopefuls could have to make a public presentation introducing their team and providing an overview of their proposal.
An owner previously told they were operating an illegal cannabis business will be unable to obtain a license.
Businesses must be 600 feet away from schools and commercial daycare and youth centers; 300 feet away from residentially zoned property; and 300 feet away from any residential unit. After council discussion Wednesday, the buffer from homes could be increased to 600 feet. Adding buffers from libraries and churches also will be discussed by the Planning Commission.
Cannabis business owners must provide to the city emergency, security and community relations contacts. They must also establish a city-approved public outreach and educational program outlining the risks of drug addiction.
Cannabis businesses cannot advertise their product publicly – on signs, banners, flags or billboards. No one under 21 is permitted on the premises.
Owners must install 24-hour security cameras to monitor entrances and exits and all interior spaces. Entry and exit sensors and panic buttons must also be installed. Uniformed licensed security guards are to be onsite.
Indoor cultivation will be permitted, so long as it is conducted by someone 21 or older and out of public view. Per state law, no more than six cannabis plants will be allowed per residence.
Structures encasing the plants and equipment used in the cultivation process must comply with city code, and cultivation must not interfere with the primary use of the building. City staffers suggest renters receive authorization to cultivate from the property owner.
Open air cultivation is prohibited throughout the city.
Fearful negligence could lead to residential fires, Councilman James Mulvihill suggested personal cultivators obtain a permit – as required for certain home improvements and exterior additions. An online self-identification process for personal cultivators also was discussed. City staffers will provide the Planning Commission cost estimates for a permitting system, an online self-identification system and a hands-off approach.
Public consumption is prohibited in buildings and places open to the public, such as farmers’ markets, parades, craft fairs and festivals. Also, any area within 50 feet of entrances. Smoking in unenclosed public areas also is prohibited.
If they haven’t already, businesses must post “No Smoking and No Vaping” or “Smoke-Free” signs at each entrance.
Fines range in cost from $100 for a first-time offense to $500 for a third and every subsequent violation within one year.
Temporary cannabis events
Proposed is the city and the National Orange Show enter into a development agreement permitting temporary cannabis events under certain provisions. The length of the agreement can be set at the city’s discretion and any event at the National Orange Show would have to adhere to the regulations agreed upon.
As with other development agreements, the Planning Commission and the City Council would have a say in the terms.
For information, visit sbcity.org.
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