Pot

Economists hired by the state government estimate that California farms produce about 13.5 million pounds of marijuana each year, while state residents annually consume about 2.5 million pounds. That leaves 11 million pounds of pot that likely flows out of California illegally, according to the economic report commissioned by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which regulates cannabis farmers.

Courtesy of Dank Depot via CALmatters

As the time approaches for the Tehachapi City Council to decide how to regulate commercial non-medical use and outdoor cultivation of marijuana, new zoning codes may help.

The Tehachapi Planning Commission passed a resolution at a special meeting on Oct. 9 that calls for banning commercial physical retail locations within the city. However, the city might allow mobile delivery cannabis retailers to obtain a city business license in order to track their activity.

The commission is recommending to the Tehachapi City Council that any business would need a state license, a physical location outside the city, or be classified as a licensed nonprofit. The mobile business must also obtain a city business license, provide a copy of their driver’s license, obtain an identification card, be fingerprinted by the police and provide other documents.

The City Council could adopt the Planning Commission's recommendation, or come up with its own ordinance.

Even though Proposition 64 allows use of marijuana for people 21 years and older and for personal reasons, it still allows cities to maintain control.

“Cities are also allowed to either prohibit or allow outdoor cannabis locations on private residences and can regionally regulate indoor cannabis cultivation, but cannot prohibit cannabis cultivation altogether,” said Maricela E. Marroquin, an attorney from Richards, Watson and Gershon. Marroguin spoke at the Planning Commission meeting and was hired by the city to help explain state law.

According to Marroquin, in November the state will come out with regulations as to how the mobile businesses can operate and how a track and trace program can help the city.

The track and trace program, which has been implemented in other areas of the state, is designed to make sure the regulation of cannabis follows local and state regulations, offers businesses licenses and stamps the product to track it through the whole process before it is sold to a consumer.

In the County of Humboldt, the track and trace program is now being enforced, since the area is one of the top producers.

Jeff M. Dolf, the agricultural commissioner for Humboldt County, said that more than 10,000 people are either growing or distributing marijuana in Humboldt and the surrounding areas.

This program is giving them the opportunity to participate and take the medical marijuana product off the black market, sell legally in dispensaries around California, and regulate the quality of the product to make sure no illegal pesticides are used and help regulate the impacts to ground and water quality. It is also a step in addressing public and federal concerns at the same time, said Dolf.

Dolf said that so far more than 30,000 stamps and 3,000 pounds have been tracked. If licenses are not obtained, the county can fine up to $10,000 a day.

If the Tehachapi Planning Commission's recommendation is passed by the Tehachapi City Council at an upcoming meeting, it will help to know where the deliveries are happening and maintain local control.

If the city doesn’t pass a prohibition on businesses setting up shop in the city, then there would not be any regulations to control it once the state starts issuing business licenses Jan. 1, according to Marroquin. Once the City Council passes an ordinance, it takes 30 days for it to go into effect, so the city is running out of time to make a decision.

California residents 21 years or older can still possess or consume up to 28.5 grams or one ounce of cannabis and have six plants for personal use, but it has to be cultivated indoors at a private residence, according to the Oct. 9 written documents provided at the Planning Commission meeting.

Some planning commissioners asked questions addressing how closely the regulations would help maintain local control.

"Do the deliveries have to be scheduled? Because the way we are hearing some comments is that it's like an ice cream truck that they pull up on the corner and anyone can come up," said Charles White, a commissioner for the Tehachapi Planning Commission.

In response, Marroquin said that the deliveries would have to be scheduled and purchased from a retail location and that it won't be from a mobile business.

The next City Council meeting is at 6 p.m. Oct. 16, at 300 S. Robinson St. in which City Council members will discuss the recommendations of the planning commission.