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Santa Monica Poised to Extend Pot Ordinance as Dispensaries Await Go-Ahead
 

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By Jorge Casuso

February 10, 2020 -- More than two years after choosing two companies to run Santa Monica's first "pot shops," the City Council on Tuesday is expected to extend an ordinance as appeals from competitors are heard.

The extension -- from this April to January 2023 -- would allow the appeals by four dispenseries to be heard and those chosen to open shop, staff said.

During that period, staff would "study the operational experiences of both medicinal cannabis retailers and medicinal cannabis manufacturers prior to making permanent changes to the Zoning Ordinance."

A total of 21 applications were submitted in 2018 for no more than two permits ("Santa Monica Chooses Medical Marijuana Retailers," December 20, 2018).

An Evaluation Committee then issued its recommendations to Planning Director David Martin, who chose Harvest of Santa Monica, LLC and CPC Compassion, Inc.

Those rankings were appealed, and the appeals are currently pending, staff said. Last month, Martin issued a 12-month extension to the final administrative decision.

During that time, staff said, " it is anticipated that administrative hearings on the appeals of the final administrative decision will take place."

The four appellants are:

  • Chaos Enterprises, Inc., dba Botany – Santa Monica
  • Sun-Light Medical, LLC
  • Santa Monica Management Group, LLC, dba Sweet Buds
  • MMOF Santa Monica, Inc. dba MedMen

After the appeals process is complete, the two highest-ranked applicants are expected to begin the process of obtaining the necessary land use and regulatory permits to operate as medicinal cannabis retailers.

The proposed extension also continues to allow the light manufacturing of medicinal cannabis and medicinal cannabis products using nonvolatile or no solvents, staff said.

The manufacturer joins commercial laundries and dry cleaning plants; monument works; printing, engraving, and publishing; machine and electrical shops; computer and electronic product manufacturing; and furniture and related product manufacturing allowed in the Industrial Conservation District.

The City recently issued one license for cannabis manufacturing to an operator that ultimately chose not to include any cannabis extractions in its operation, staff said.

Under the extending zoning ordinance, "the use of volatile solvents to conduct extracting operations would still be prohibited," staff said.

However, extractions using nonvolatile solvents, including ethanol, or no solvents would be permitted "subject to state and local health and safety requirements and approval by the local fire code official."

Santa Monica's first operators are expected to open shop nearly a quarter century after California legalized medical marijuana in 1996.

In 2017, after long resisting calls for establishing medical marijuana retailers, the City Council approved a law regulating dispensaries ("Santa Monica City Council Approves Law Allowing Medicinal “Pot Shops,” October 12, 2017).

Under Santa Monica’s medical cannabis law, retailers are restricted to the two-mile confines of Wilshire Boulevard, from Lincoln to the city limits, and along Santa Monica Boulevard between Lincoln and 20th Street or between 23rd Street and Centinela Avenue.

Outlets can be no larger than 2,500 square feet, cannot be within 600 feet of a child care and early education facility, or family day care center, park, school, library, social service center or other cannabis retailer.


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