Redwood City’s Proposed Cannabis Regulations

An in depth look at Redwood City Council’s potential cannabis regulations.

On November 8, 2016, the state of California passed Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). Under this act, the state approved recreational marijuana use for persons aged 21 years or older and the establishment of certain sales and cultivation taxes. This blog provides details about how the City of Redwood City is weighing potential cannabis regulations and how community members can provide input.

New State Law Legalizing Recreational Cannabis

Recreational cannabis use and operation of recreational cannabis businesses will not be effective until the State begins issuing licenses on January 1, 2018. The state law includes the following provisions:

· Legalizes recreational cannabis use by adults age 21 and over

· Authorizes cultivation of up to six plants per housing unit for personal consumption

· Establishes new state licensing and regulatory framework for the cultivation manufacturing, transportation, storage, distribution, sale, and taxation of recreational cannabis

· Establishes a state excise tax to fund research, various programs and other efforts

Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act

Currently, Redwood City enforces medical cannabis provisions under the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCSRA) passed by California State Legislature in 2015. This act established a state licensing and regulatory framework for the cultivation, manufacture, transportation, storage, distribution, and sale of medical cannabis. It requires applicants to have a City permit in order to obtain a state license to engage in the medical cannabis business. Redwood City’s only local cannabis-related regulation is to prohibit medical cannabis distribution facilities, such as collectives or dispensaries, in all zoning districts of the City. Delivery of medical cannabis is allowed and not subjected to City business license obligations or City taxes.

City Weighs Recreational Cannabis Regulations

In response to the new State law legalizing recreational cannabis use, the City of Redwood City is evaluating various potential cannabis restrictions including:

· Ban commercial cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and processing

· Ban outdoor personal cannabis cultivation

· Ban cannabis retail storefront sales

· Allow recreation and medical cannabis delivery that is sealed, cash free, and fully tracked under State of California regulations

· Apply business license fees to cannabis deliveries and consider applying excise or sales taxes to cannabis sales

Recreational and Medical Cannabis Safety

The City of Redwood City is dedicated to our community’s safety and is developing various processes in light of legal recreational cannabis use, in response to the new State law. A few concerns raised by community members include driving under the influence, cannabis deliveries in Redwood City and youth safety. This section highlights answers to these frequently asked questions.

Driving Safety

Currently, there is not a specific laboratory test available to determine a presumptive level of impaired driving with respect to cannabis concentrations measured in blood, breath or urine samples, like there is with alcohol testing. State of California taxes raised through legalizing recreational cannabis use, will provide for California Highway Patrol to develop a mechanical field sobriety test or other laboratory chemical test to evaluate the level of cannabis in a driver’s system. Until a test is developed, the Redwood City Police Department will enforce driving under the influence of cannabis cases based on police officer observations. This approach is used now in situations of potential illegal cannabis use or alcohol use impairing a driver’s capacity to safely operate a vehicle.

Delivery Safety

Currently, medical cannabis deliveries are legal in Redwood City. The City has not heard of any concerns or issues about these deliveries. Medical cannabis deliveries are made in an unmarked car. The City Council will discuss whether to allow delivery of recreational cannabis, and what safety standards and regulations would be appropriate. City staff will provide the City Council with information about State requirements as well as best practices for local regulations.

Youth Safety

The AUMA prohibits consumption of cannabis in a public place unlicensed for such use, including near K-12 schools, on sidewalks, child day care facilities and other areas where children are present. The initiative also includes provisions designed to help keep cannabis away from children, including but not limited to, marketing restrictions, school buffer zones, child-resistant packaging, and warning labels. In addition, there will be State funding dedicated to youth education as part of the legalization of the use of recreational cannabis.

For more information and other questions, go here.

City Seeks Input and Where To Go For More Resources

The City developed a survey to garner community input in this process. To provide your input, please fill out the community survey in English or en español. This survey closes September 22 at 11:59 p.m.

If you have questions regarding the City’s discussion on potential cannabis regulations, visit our FAQ page. To view the June City Council meeting discussion, go here. The City Council meeting staff report is also available here.

Potential City regulations will be considered by the Planning Commission on October 3 and the City Council on October 23.