City Council Approves the Cannabis Ordinance (Becomes Effective on January 3, 2018)
On November 20, 2017, the City Council held a public hearing on the proposed Cannabis Ordinance. After the public hearing and discussing all the issues, the City Council, by a 5-2 (5 ayes, 2 noes) vote, introduced Ordinance #2480 with the following changes: a) allowing dispensaries in the Neighborhood Commercial (C-N) zone; b) allowing dispensaries in the Light Industrial (I-L) zones; c) allowing volatile manufacturing in the Light Industrial (I-L) zone; d) allowing adult use dispensaries in the Commercial Office (C-O) zone; and, e) adding some language regarding the "Watson Advisement" regarding driving under the influence to the required signs to be posted in dispensaries. The Ordinance was revised and came back to the City Council for a second reading/adoption on December 4, 2017. That night, Ordinance #2480 was adopted and will become effective 30 days later on January 3, 2018. Various documents relating to the Cannabis Ordinance can be downloaded below, including the adopted Ordinance. When effective, Ordinance #2480 will replace Ordinance #2464, adopted in 2016, and described below.
At its December 18, 2017, meeting, the City Council will hold a public hearing and consider adoption of a resolution to establish application fees for Commercial Cannabis Business Permits as well as annual regulatory fees for monitoring and enforcement. A copy of the public hearing notice is available below and the City Council administrative report will be available around Dec. 14, 2017. On January 2, 2018, the City Council is expected to consider adoption of the Merit-Based Selection Criteria for Dispensaries/Retail Sales.
Planning Commission Public Hearings (October/November 2017)
A study session was held by the Planning Commission on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, regarding the Draft Ordinance regarding Cannabis Businesses in Merced. A public hearing before the Planning Commission was held on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, but due some technical issues with the appointment of one of our Planning Commissioners, the public hearing was rescheduled for Wednesday, November 8, 2017, for the Planning Commission to make a recommendation to the City Council on the Draft Ordinance. After the public hearing, the Planning Commission recommended to the City Council by at 5-1-1 (5 ayes, 1 no, 1 abstain) vote to approve the Ordinance as proposed with the addition of dispensaries in the Light Industrial (I-L) zone.
A number of public meetings have been held thus far to give input into the process of developing an ordinance and selection process for future medical marijuana businesses in the City. A study session on Proposition 64 was held for the City Council on April 17, 2017 (presentation available for download below). A Community Outreach meeting on medical marijuana issues in the City was held on May 9, 2017 (presentation and flyer available for download below). A study session with the Planning Commission and City Council was held on July 5, 2017 (presentation is available for download below). A second Stakeholder and Community meeting was held on July 12, 2017 (flyer and presentation available for download below).
A Study Session with the City Council and Planning Commission was held on September 12, 2017. See below to download a copy of the agenda packet, which included a DRAFT ordinance (since revised, please refer to the November 8 Planning Commission packet), as well as the presentation. The City Council and Planning Commission gave staff direction for modifications to the ordinance which would allow more commercial cannabis businesses in the City, including commercial cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and adult use dispensaries/retail sales as well as the medical dispensaries. More information regarding these modifications to the DRAFT ordinance will appear on this page in the future.
Preparation of Operating and Licensing Regulations for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
In February 2017, the City of Merced hired SCI Consulting, Inc., to assist the City with the preparation of the operating and licensing regulations for the four medical marijuana dispensaries authorized by the City Council in Ordinance No. 2464 (see below for details).
SCI has prepared a list of Frequently Asked Questions (see below) about the process.
Background of Ordinance #2464
After months of public meetings and significant public input, on August 1, 2016, the Merced City Council introduced Ordinance No. 2464 (which passed by a 4-3 vote) and was subsequently adopted on August 15, 2016, and was effective 30 days later on September 15, 2016.
The Ordinance has the following provisions:
1) Allows medical marijuana dispensaries with a Conditional Use Permit in the C-O (Professional/Commercial Office) District and Planned Developments (P-D) with Commercial Office General Plan designations, but also places restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries as follows:
a) The proposed dispensary cannot be located within 600 feet of the property line of any kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, or high school (consistent with State law);
b) The proposed dispensary cannot be located within 500 feet of the property line of any public park that includes playgrounds, active play areas, and/or sports fields (not including bike paths);
c) The proposed dispensary cannot be located within 500 feet of the property line of any youth center, City-owned and operated recreational center, or public library;
d) No more than four dispensaries shall be authorized to operate in the City at any given time; and,
e) Dispensaries must also obtain a license from the State of California to operate a dispensary prior to opening for business at a specific location in the City.
2) Allows deliveries of medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries during the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.; and,
3) Allows the indoor growth of up to six marijuana plants for personal use by qualified patients and caregivers.
The Ordinance also included language stating that the applications for medical marijuana dispensaries would not be accepted until specific regulations regarding the dispensaries had been adopted by the City Council. These include specific regulations regarding the operations of the dispensaries, and objective standards for the issuance of the regulatory permit that a proposed operator must obtain prior to applying for a conditional use permit for a dispensary.
Because the City has not yet adopted specific regulations regarding the operations of dispensaries and objective standards for the issuance of regulatory permits for dispensaries, the City is currently not authorized to accept applications for regulatory permits for dispensaries or applications for a conditional use permit for dispensaries.
All other commercial cannabis activities are prohibited within the City of Merced until such time as Ordinance #2480 becomes effective on January 3, 2018.
A copy of the complete Ordinance No. 2464 is available for download below.