Marysville council opposes recreational cannabis retail sales | TheUnion.com

Marysville council opposes recreational cannabis retail sales

Jake Abbott
Special to The Union

At times during the discussion, it seemed as if Marysville City Council members were open to the idea of allowing retail sales of commercial recreational cannabis within their jurisdiction.

At one point, even, Councilman Bill Simmons highlighted the city's opportunity to be a leader on the issue in a region where other cities and counties have taken a hard stance against what will be the state's newest legal commodity come Jan. 1.

But by the end of this week's special meeting, the majority of the council – including Stephanie McKenzie, Chris Pedigo and Dale Whitmore – said they are opposed to commercial cannabis sales or going against what their constituents have opposed. The council directed staff to draft an ordinance prohibiting commercial sales, with the caveat that manufacturing and testing businesses and pharmaceutical research and development firms may be permitted.

"Generally, they embraced the suggested policy framework points we had provided them for the discussion, with the significant exception that (the ordinance) would not permit retail sales for adult use of marijuana," said City Manager Walter Munchheimer.

Nothing has been made official, but once Munchheimer and staff submit the drafted ordinance to the council, it's likely the city will largely follow suit with other local jurisdictions to mitigate the growth of the marijuana industry in the area.

The one main difference being Marysville has already approved two medical dispensaries – though no official opening dates have been reported.

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The city has ordinances that address issues of sale and the use of cannabis, but for medical purposes. The newest ordinance will basically fill in the gaps in Marysville's Municipal Code to include limitations and regulations for commercial cannabis brought on by the 2016 passage of Proposition 64.

The state will begin issuing temporary licenses to commercial cannabis businesses at the start of next year. By establishing an ordinance, the city will essentially notify the state to not issue licenses within Marysville.

To help the council navigate the topics, the city brought in a consultant, Jano Dekermenjian, who spent years in the state Legislature as a staffer and is currently a senior associate of Government Relations for Weedmaps. Munchheimer said the city also reached out to the Bureau of Cannabis Control – the state entity that will issue commercial licenses starting next year – to attend the meeting, but representatives declined due to state regulations not being finalized yet.

The following policy considerations were discussed by Marysville council members at Tuesday's special meeting regarding commercial cannabis activities:

General conditions

Prohibitions for outdoor cultivation, consumption at dispensaries and online ordering for deliveries into or within the city are covered in Marysville's Municipal Code and are unlikely to change under a new ordinance, considering the council's consensus on the topics.

Council members agreed that marijuana consumption in public places should be banned. They also agreed that sales or distribution of marijuana products or services should be prohibited at community and neighborhood events, as well as any advertising.

Personal use

Mayor Ricky Samayoa said the city doesn't have the authority to prohibit an adult from cultivating up to six plants, but officials can establish parameters as to how and where it's grown.

The council discussed a new policy that would require anyone growing the plant to do so inside an accessory building and not inside their home.

The most common issues officials expressed were with the odor at outdoor cultivation sites, as well as how grows in living quarters can bring down housing values and can lead to fire hazards and safety concerns.

Those who choose to go that route might have to apply for a permit through the city.

The permit – if the ordinance is drafted according to city staff's policy considerations – would be free and would provide a level of confidentiality by making them exempt from public records requests.

The idea, said City Manager Walter Munchheimer, is that "some information is better than no information." Councilman Dale Whitmore raised concerns that it was unfair to allow the permitting to be done for free in this case, and not others.

Other policies discussed included prohibiting marijuana that is grown for personal use from being sold or bartered, and the production of butane hash oil.

Commercial activity

Council members discussed the potential for allowing retail sales of commercial cannabis and cannabis products through one of the city's two licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, but ultimately decided against it.

However, officials were more receptive to the idea of allowing manufacturing and testing businesses, as well as pharmaceutical research and development firms to operate within the city, so long as it doesn't involve retail sales.

"I'm not sure how I feel. I would like to restrict commercial (activities), but maintain only medicinal," said Councilwoman Stephanie McKenzie.

McKenzie said the city should wait and see what happens around the state next year before making any significant policy decisions to allow for retail sales.

"Testing and facilities like that other than retail, I'm OK with. I realize we are living in the modern world but I'm not ready to allow commercial (sales)," said Councilman Chris Pedigo. "… I'd like to see how dispensaries operate before I change my position on recreational."

Whitmore said he is opposed to recreational marijuana.

Before the meeting was adjourned, Samayoa said while retail might not be in the cards yet, allowing manufacturing and testing businesses to operate within the city is a reasonable idea for officials to consider.

Jake Abbott is reporter for the Marysville Appeal Democrat. Contact him at jabbott@appealdemocrat.com.

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