Final Cannabis Vote Scheduled

Council to determine marijuana’s future

At its April 16 meeting, the City Council will consider the final fate of four cannabis-related ordinances.  

On Jan. 15, the Council conducted a public hearing on these ordinances that would amend the city’s Municipal Code involving cannabis-related business (“Council Ponders What to Do with Legal Marijuana,” Jan. 17). If the Council passes these four ordinances, the vote would repeal ordinances 3227 and 3228 that involve the regulatory and land-use aspects of marijuana business in the city and create two new ordinances. 

Ordinance 3227 involves the regulatory rules of marijuana businesses in Alameda. The new ordinances would amend Alameda Municipal Code Article XVI that deals with cannabis business. This article is found in the Code’s Chapter VI that defines businesses, occupations and industry. The first proposed change would remove the cap on the number of testing laboratories in the city. Ordinance 3227 caps the number of testing labs at two. 

The new ordinance would also seek to double the number of storefront dispensaries from the two allowed in the current ordinance to four — two east of Grand Street and two west of Grand. If the Council approves, the two new businesses must require delivery service and be open to the public. 

The proposed ordinance would permit dispensaries and does not make a distinction between the different types of retail dispensaries. In addition the new ordinances would maintain the 1,000-foot buffer zone between marijuana businesses and public and private schools. However passage would reduce the buffer zone to 600 feet from all other sensitive areas, including youth centers, day cares and tutoring centers.

One of the more controversial changes would change the definition of a youth center. The new definition would not include buildings, locations or facilities where programs, activities or services are offered at private residences; involves physical fitness, martial arts or combat sports, cultural or similar education or are offered less than five hours per day each day the location is open. 

A final change to Ordinance 3227 would require any cannabis-related business located outside of the city to acquire an Alameda business license if that business was delivering cannabis or cannabis-related products to Alameda. 

The Council’s April 16 vote would also replace Ordinance 3228 that deals with the land-use zoning of potential marijuana businesses. The new ordinance would amend Alameda Municipal Code Section 30-10 for dispensaries to include both neighborhood business (C1) and commercial manufacturing districts (CM). A city memorandum informs the City Council that C1 district’s “serve residential areas with convenient shopping and service facilities,” while CM districts “could be complementary to the general commercial facilities and light manufacturing uses permitted in that district.” 

Council’s approval of the changes would remove the dispersion requirement that stated dispensaries must be located at least one mile from each other. The Planning Board informed the Council that the dispersion requirement was not a land-use issue, but a regulatory issue.