PLEASANT HILL — The cannabis industry may gain a toehold east of the Caldecott Tunnel here in Pleasant Hill, a city that flatly rejected medical marijuana a decade ago.
Although it is still too early to say what the City Council will do, consider this — citing a desire to set regulations and collect sales tax dollars, two council members have indicated a willingness to embrace marijuana retailers.
And during a recent study session, five of seven planning commissioners either endorsed allowing pot shops in Pleasant Hill or said they would not oppose marijuana sales.[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]”I have no problem with approving retail cannabis locations,” said David Mascaro, adding that the city should limit the number and prohibit them from opening near schools.
Last month, the council asked the Planning Commission to recommend regulations related to the sale, delivery and commercial cultivation of marijuana.
Council members would like to have rules and, if necessary, a permitting process in place before January when the state begins issuing licenses for marijuana-related businesses — including retailers, testing labs and commercial grow operations.
Most of the commissioners also support marijuana delivery and revisiting the ban on medical dispensaries. However, they oppose commercial cultivation. Taking their input, City Attorney Janet Coleson will draft an ordinance and return to the commission for its review.
In November, nearly 65 percent of Pleasant Hill voters supported Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use for people 21 and older.
The law also allows adults to grow six marijuana plants inside a private residence for their personal use. However, municipalities may regulate or prohibit outdoor and commercial cultivation, as well as retail sales of marijuana products.
Despite majority support for the state proposition, city leaders decided to poll residents to find out if they would want pot shops in the city.
About 63 percent of respondents to an online survey on the city’s website opposed retail sales of recreational marijuana and commercial grows. Respondents narrowly favored repealing the ban on medical marijuana dispensaries by 51 to 49 percent. The survey ran for 15 days.
Several speakers at the meeting dismissed the results of the non-scientific survey because it drew only 243 responses.
“It’s worthless,” said resident Dick Offerman. “Throw it out.”
Although Commissioner Bill Bankert said he has talked to residents who, like him, do not want cannabis businesses in the city, he agreed that the small sample size cast doubt on the poll’s results.
“I would like, however, to see a more thorough survey,” Bankert said. “I would like to see the will of the people on these issues.”
Residents urged the commission to accept the blossoming cannabis industry rather than cede future sales tax revenue to neighboring cities. Although no one spoke in opposition, in an email David Roche advised the commissioners to reject pot.
“It’s very simple, what kind of city do you want Pleasant Hill to be?” he wrote. “Do you want a city that is full of marijuana dispensaries, tattoo parlors and check cashing? We do not need those tax dollars that badly.”
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