Planning Commission Continues Hearing on Cannabis Ordinance to October 10 Meeting

Beginning on January 1, 2018, the state of California will regulate and issue licenses to permit the commercial production, sale and distribution of cannabis for medicinal and non-medicinal use. Local regulations must be adopted before the State begins issuing licenses next year. By adopting a local ordinance prohibiting cannabis businesses, a city ensures that the state will not issue a license to such a business within the city’s borders. As a result, many local jurisdictions, similar to Mill Valley, are in the process of enacting local ordinances to prohibit or limit commercial cannabis within city limits through local land use, zoning and/or health and safety regulations. The City of Mill Valley has for many years prohibited medical cannabis dispensaries and in late 2016, the City Council adopted an urgency ordinance to establish a similar prohibition for other related cannabis activities both medial and non-medical. The urgency ordinance will expire in late 2017 and needs to be replaced prior to January 1, 2018 to ensure local control.

At the September 26, 2017 hearing, the Vice Chair Capretta indicated that legalizing cannabis was a major inflection point in American history, requiring the careful review and establishment of checks and balances for cannabis regulations. During Planning Commission deliberations, Commission expressed an interest in considering a local dispensary, and/or delivery service within city limits. The Commission continued the hearing to October 10, 2017 to allow staff to provide further details about the specific standards and regulations to be considered, should the City elect to move forward with regulations that permitted a cannabis dispensary and/or delivery service in the City. 

Specific standards such as allowable locations (outside a given distance from schools, no less than 600 ft); hours of operation; security and parking requirements; type of use (medical or non-medical) need to be examined and evaluated carefully with the community. Additional research is also required to determine the potential revenues that could be generated by establishing a local tax, should a commercial cannabis use be allowed.  Given these complexities, City staff will recommend that Planning Commission seek input from City Council and community prior to initiating further staff resources to develop possible regulations to conditionally permit cannabis dispensaries and/or delivery services within the City of Mill Valley.

The draft cannabis ordinance remains the same as the draft presented to Planning Commission on September 26, 2017, which modifies Chapters 7 “Health and Sanitation” and Chapter 20 “Zoning.” The draft ordinance retains the rights of individuals, as established under Proposition 64 and state Law, including:

  • permitting adults 21 years and older to use and possess up to 28.5 grams of cannabis and 8 grams of concentrated cannabis for recreational purposes in a private home or at businesses licensed for on-site cannabis consumption;
  • permitting individuals to grow up to six plants within a private home; and
  • prohibiting individuals from smoking/consuming cannabis while driving; in public places; and, in other places where smoking in prohibited.
  • delivery of medical cannabis from outside the city

During the passage of the urgency ordinance earlier this year Councilmember Jim Wickham, citing his 40 years of law enforcement, said “We talk about small town charm in Mill Valley. I want us to take control of this medical marijuana issue and look at it down the line. Let’s wait and see how the state deals with it and what the County does. For Mill Valley, at this point, I think this is the best thing to do.”