Sebastopol’s city council is replacing an existing emergency cannabis ordinance with a permanent one, to be reviewed in one year.
Mayor Patrick Slayter said he felt it best for the city to move at a “careful pace.”
After an hour-long debate at the council’s Feb. 20 meeting about how many cannabis dispensaries, cannabis delivery services and cannabis events should be allowed a permit by the city, councilmembers finally came to an agreement.
Major changes in the ordinance included; restricting the number of cannabis dispensaries to two (which are already in existence), allowing three cannabis delivery services in the city (two of which are expected to be conducted by the two dispensaries), and allowing no more than four cannabis events per year on public or private property (individual applicants are allowed up to two events only).
Changes in the ordinance passed unanimously (4-0 with councilmember Michael Carnacchi absent). The ordinance draft came from the planning commission, which also had a difficult time deciding how many cannabis retail businesses should be allowed. It will return to the council for a final vote at a later meeting.
Craig Litwin, 421 Group cannabis consultant and former two-term councilmember, spoke to the council during public comment. He said two dispensaries were not enough for the city and he believed the city should be more receptive to open up unlimited amounts of delivery services rather than restricting the number.
Other public commenters agreed, the more cannabis retail business the better for the city.
Katie Callahan, of Belle Fleur Apothecary, said more delivery services would benefit the community and allow the city to trail blaze the industry.
“It’s an incredible gift to the community to allow people like myself who do not own a dispensary from previous to run a low equity business in the community,” she said.
Councilmember Sarah Glade Gurney said delivery service was the “topic for the night” and given the city’s history she projected the city would do well expanding the amount of cannabis deliveries.
“I think our history would indicate to us that we could go with a more open-ended choice,” Gurney said.
Although the ordinance has restrictions on the locations of the delivery service, the product can be delivered anywhere.
Councilmembers Gurney and Una Glass were in favor of four delivery services, while Mayor Slayter and Vice Mayor Neysa Hinton felt that was too many.
Other smaller changes to the cannabis ordinance included altering language about operating requirements. Andrew Dobbs-Kramer, representing Peace in Medicine–Sparc, spoke to council during public comment on behalf of the first medical dispensary to open in Sebastopol.
Dobbs-Kramer said some sections of the cannabis ordinance draft were unnecessary. One item from the operating requirements requires odor control measures be installed and certified by an engineer and another section states there shall be no onsite consumption.
“This is maybe not appropriate for retailers in the new model of retail where all cannabis comes previously packaged in a tamper-evident container that cannot be opened at retail, anything that’s open at retail has be discarded and thrown away actually,” he said. “There’s really no odor at a retail site anymore and there is no onsite consumption.”
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), effective Jan. 1, made it legal for adults 21 and over to possess, privately use, and give away up to one ounce of cannabis, and to cultivate six plants for personal use at their residence.
It also legalized the commercial sale, distribution, and production of cannabis for adult use at state-licensed facilities under the Medical and Adult Use of Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) approved by the state legislature in 2017.
However, local city and county governments can restrict or ban cannabis businesses in their jurisdiction. Communities across the state are still working to make adjustments after the arrival of recreational usage beyond the previously permitted medicinal usage. Likewise, cannabis consumers and businesses are doing their best to keep up with the changes.