Recreational pot becomes legal in California on Jan. 1, and Palm Springs is ready for it.
The city council passed a sweeping new ordinance creating a framework for the growing and selling of adult use marijuana in the city, including social spaces for people to smoke or consume edibles.
The council voted 4-1 on Wednesday to adopt the ordinance. Council member Chris Mills, who has routinely voted against marijuana-related measures, cast the no vote.
“Prohibition is over,” Council member Geoff Kors said after the vote.
The regulations allow for the establishment of cannabis lounges, places where recreational pot can be consumed on site. Lounges will be allowed in all commercial and manufacturing areas, with the exception of industrial zones and the airport.
The lounges will operate like cannabis bars, where pot can be sold and consumed on site. Patrons who don’t smoke–or eat–everything they buy can bring home their leftovers in a doggy bag.
Medical and recreational dispensaries will be required to undergo a review by the Architectural Advisory Committee and Planning Commission, but will not need to obtain any special permits. Dispensaries will be allowed in any commercial or manufacturing area, including the airport, with the exception of industrial zoned land.
Mills said he didn’t understand why dispensaries or lounges would have to undergo an architectural review process if they were moving into existing buildings and weren’t doing major renovations since other establishments, like bars, didn’t have to undergo review in similar circumstances.
“What I would hate to have happen, is because they’re a dispensary, and you have storefront after storefront after storefront in the same building, and they’re held to a different standard” he said.
Council member J.R. Roberts said lounges should be treated like bars, except when it comes to monitoring the aesthetics.
“These places just tend to look bad as a rule,” he said, adding some owners made an effort to beautify dispensaries, but many didn’t fit in with the city’s overall aesthetic environment.
Stand-alone lounges–ones that offer no services except the ability to buy and consume cannabis products on site–will have to undergo a longer and more expensive process to obtain conditional use permits. However, lounges that also offer food, or are part of a yoga studio, art gallery or other type of business, will not be required to do so.
All cultivation, manufacturing and and testing facilities will also be required to obtain CUPs. These facilities will be allowed in manufacturing and commercial manufacturing, industrial and research park zones, as will transportation and distribution facilities.
All cultivation, manufacturing and and testing facilities will be required to obtain conditional use permits, a longer and more expensive process. These facilities will be allowed in manufacturing and commercial manufacturing, industrial and research park zones, as will transportation and distribution facilities.
The regulations follow some of the suggestions made by residents and dispensary owners at a meeting with the city council cannabis subcommittee last month, but some industry members were not satisfied.
Jim Camper of Organic Solutions of the Desert said the valley had already become oversaturated with medical cannabis businesses and allowing the industry to expand further could be detrimental for the six dispensaries currently open in the city.
“I think it’s honestly a mistake to go ahead and do this so quickly, with recreational not even here yet,” he said.
In an attempt to prevent oversaturation, dispensaries not in manufacturing zones cannot be within 1,000 feet of another dispensary, or 2,000 feet in downtown or the uptown design district. Planning Director Flinn Fagg said that means there could be a maximum of five dispensaries in the areas.
Cannabis businesses not in downtown or uptown must be at least 250 feet from any residential area and 600 to 1,000 feet from schools, public parks and daycare centers, depending on the type of facility.
Robert Van Roo of Palm Springs Safe Access said the six medical license holders had asked the city to give them priority processing for recreational licenses through the end of 2018, something he said California was doing with state licenses.
Desert Hot Springs took similar steps as Palm Springs last month, unanimously passing an ordinance to expand the city’s marijuana-related ordinances beyond medical use.
“Pretty much what the ordinance does is allows for adult-use marijuana as well as medical-use marijuana in the city,” City Attorney Jennifer Mizrahi said at the time.
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The measure also included a provision that would have allowed for micro business licenses–generally described as all-inclusive permits which allow facilities of less than 10,000 square feet to cultivate, manufacture and distribute marijuana products.
Council members said they wanted a more specific definition of “micro business,” and needed more discussion regarding what types of micro businesses the city wanted to allow before moving forward. The council passed the adult-use ordinance, but tabled the discussion of micro businesses for a later meeting.
Council member Russell Betts said since the council had started regulating medical marijuana about five years ago, the body had always envisioned recreational use would someday be legalized.
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