Alhambra is set to ban recreational marijuana businesses in the city – at least for now.
The City Council unanimously gave preliminary approval last week to an ordinance that would ban all land uses associated with recreational marijuana – cultivation, manufacture, distribution, retailers and laboratory testing.
In addition, the ordinance would prohibit delivery of recreational marijuana anywhere in the city but would allow for deliveries of medical marijuana to a patient’s primary caregiver in Alhambra.
The ordinance, which will come back before the council for a second reading at a future meeting date, also establishes regulations for personal marijuana grows – the plants must be grown in residences or accessory structures that are fully enclosed and secured against unauthorized entry, gas products related to cannabis cultivation are prohibited, indoor grow lights cannot exceed 1,000 watts per light and a fire extinguisher must be kept in the same room or structure where the cultivation is taking place.
Alhambra has had a moratorium against private cannabis cultivation and non-medical facilities since December 2016. The moratorium was set to expire Dec. 10.
Only a handful of residents were in attendance at Monday’s City Council meeting, and two spoke against the ordinance. Resident Justin Chap said the ordinance does not respect the wishes of voters who overwhelmingly approved Prop. 64, which legalized recreational marijuana sales and use, in 2016.
“I’m not saying Alhambra needs to put a marijuana shop on every street corner, but to deny even one is to deny the popular vote of the people,” Chap said.
Resident Carolyn Hill said the city is foregoing a major revenue source by banning commercial recreational marijuana.
“We’re surrounded by communities – San Gabriel, San Marino, South Pasadena – that are banning marijuana,” Hill said. “Okay, let’s enable those customers to buy marijuana here, and let us regulate very severely the shops that we do allow.”
The City Council remained undeterred in supporting the ordinance. City Councilman Luis Ayala said the ordinance isn’t intended to stop anything that isn’t already going on in the city but rather to enhance the safety of those growing marijuana in their residential properties.
Mayor Jeff Maloney said the City Council is being responsible by maintaining the status quo and observing how the commercial recreational marijuana industry evolves.
“It’s not an issue I’m adamantly opposed to, but I don’t want to be the guinea pig,” Maloney said. “I don’t want Alhambra to be the first ones out of the box trying to figure out what the problems are.”
Maloney said the city could always revisit the issue “down the road.”
While most San Gabriel Valley cities have banned recreational marijuana businesses, Baldwin Park has approved up to 25 such businesses to operate, and West Covina is in the beginning stages of drafting an ordinance to allow these businesses to operate in the city’s manufacturing zone.