City Passes Ordinance to Regulate Legal Cannabis

The City Council laid out the final guidelines for cannabis use and cannabis-owned businesses in Alameda at itsNov. 22 meeting. The guidelines are displayed in a new ordinance that amended the Alameda Municipal Code to include Article XVI (Cannabis Businesses) to Chapter VI (Businesses, Occupations and Industries).  

The city will offer just one cultivation permit to start a nursery. A nursery is where a business produces only clones, immature plants, seeds and other agricultural products used specifically for the planting, propagation and cultivation of cannabis. Just two businesses will be offered dispensary or retail permits. The city will hand out no more than four manufacturing permits. Manufacturers conduct the preparation for marijuana products to be sold including packaging and labeling products and the extraction of cannabis for the use of edible marijuana products such as brownies and creams. Finally, the city will offer two testing laboratory permits.

The Community Development Department will determine if the necessary requirements are met before offering businesses a permit. Each permit is valid for one year. Businesses then must renew each permit at least 60 days before the expiration of the permit.

With a dispensary or retail permit, businesses can offer a marijuana delivery service — those businesses will need to get a delivery permit. Any person who delivers or distributes cannabis to a customer must have the appropriate permit in their possession. Delivery or distribution of cannabis is allowed only between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Cannabis businesses engaging in retail or cultivation must be located at least 1,000 feet away from schools and day care centers. All other cannabis businesses must be 600 feet from a school. Private schools or day cares at a home do not count. All cannabis business employees must be at least 21 years old.

The Council also amended the Alameda Municipal Code Chapters 24-11 (regarding smoking prohibitions in places of employment and unenclosed public places) and 24-12 (regarding smoking prohibitions in multifamily housing) to include smoking marijuana products. Previously the ordinance just included tobacco products. This means people can’t smoke marijuana products in public places or multifamily housing, but customers can smoke at on-site dispensaries.

Mayor Trish Spencer wanted the city to offer more permits to nurseries, medical dispensaries and manufacturing companies. She believed with fewer options it would favor big businesses. However, she did not get enough support from her fellow Councilmembers. Cannabis businesses are required to have a labor peace agreement if they choose to employ 10 or more people. 

Alameda residents have been split on cannabis-related businesses in the city. Some cite the convenience of not having to go to Oakland for marijuana, the additional sales-tax revenue for the city and the creation of jobs for why they favor marijuana businesses in Alameda. Others cite safety issues and public health concerns for why they don’t favor cannabis businesses in Alameda.

In November 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64, or the “Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act” (AUMA) which allowed for sales of recreational pot through dispensaries. Recreational use of cannabis will become legal in the state on Jan. 1. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Medical marijuana in California, dispensed through licensed businesses and regulated through a doctor’s prescription, has been legal since 1996.