Costa Mesa will likely soon become the first Orange County city to allow businesses to manufacture, distribute and test recreational marijuana.
Costa Mesa already allows such businesses for medical marijuana, thanks to Measure X, an initiative approved by voters in 2016. That measure allows the businesses to operate in a northwest portion of the city – north of the 405 freeway and just west of Harbor Boulevard.
The City Council on March 20 voted 5-0 to expand the program to include recreational marijuana. It will have to vote a second time on April 3 for the new rules to take effect for that same area of Costa Mesa.
Since California voters supported legalizing recreational marijuana in 2016, state law allows the use, possession and cultivation of pot by those 21 and older as well as the related businesses.
Cities were allowed to set their own regulations for businesses. Dispensaries, retail sales and commercial cultivation remain prohibited in Costa Mesa.
Irvine recently approved marijuana testing laboratories in its industrial, medical and science districts. La Habra is considering allowing commercial cannabis distribution facilities. Santa Ana is the only city in Orange County that allows sales of marijuana.
There are some differences in the types of products manufacturers can make for the medical vs. recreational markets. Patients who have doctor’s recommendations for medical marijuana can buy concentrated cannabis oil, for example, which has up to 2,000 milligrams of THC – the compound in marijuana that makes people feel high. Recreational customers can only buy concentrates with up to 1,000 milligrams of THC.
Products also have to be labeled differently for each market.
The state has licensed more than 600 manufacturers so far, according to data shared by the California Department of Public Health.
Many cities and counties in California that permit manufacturing allow operators serving both the medical and recreational markets. There are 113 cities or unincorporated county areas where medical manufacturing is legal, while there are 91 places where recreational manufacturing is OK.
The breakdown is similar for distribution, with 111 cities or counties where medical activities are allowed and 85 where recreational distribution is permitted.
To learn more about marijuana laws in Southern California cities, check out the Register’s database here.