PLEASANT HILL — The cannabis industry may secure a key endorsement Tuesday when the Planning Commission considers a draft ordinance that would allow retail sales of medical and recreational marijuana.
Under the proposed measure, pot shops could operate in retail business districts in Pleasant Hill with a conditional use permit.
However, cannabis retailers could not locate within 600 feet of a school or within 1,000 feet of another marijuana store. Business owners also must minimize odors to avoid creating a “public nuisance.”[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]The draft ordinance also gives planning commissioners the option of limiting the number of medical or recreational cannabis sellers in the city. They also may allow or prohibit onsite consumption of marijuana or marijuana products, and may impose additional regulations.
The meeting is 6:30 p.m. Aug. 29, at City Hall, 100 Gregory Lane.
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.
In June, 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.
To meet that deadline, planning commissioners must finalize their recommendations to the council before the end of October.
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However, the staff report for the meeting notes that marijuana remains illegal under federal law and with approximately 50 bills pending in the state Legislature, the regulatory environment for the burgeoning cannabis industry remains in flux.
“As such, there is a large measure of uncertainty facing this industry and the communities that are attempting to regulate these uses,” the report states.
During a July study session, five of seven planning commissioners either endorsed allowing pot shops in Pleasant Hill or said they would not be opposed to marijuana sales. However, they did not want commercial cultivation in the city.
“I am in favor of the retail business,” Commissioner Allen Vinson said during the meeting. “I’d like to start with just a few, so we can work out how it works in the city, but I’m open to the idea of trying to make it work.”
In January, the state will begin collecting a 15 percent excise tax on recreational marijuana sales. Pleasant Hill could place a sales tax measure on the November 2018 ballot.
Cities across the Bay Area have reviewed their marijuana regulations now that recreational use is legal. San Ramon imposed a ban on all dispensaries and Orinda banned outdoor cultivation and commercial marijuana activities.
Walnut Creek leaders extended until 2019 a ban on outdoor marijuana cultivation, commercial grow operations and sales. Concord reversed a longstanding policy and agreed to allow medical marijuana home delivery and put in place a temporary ban on all other marijuana activities and uses, except those allowed under state law.