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West Hollywood Cannabis Ordinance Discussion
Peter Cervieri

Video from the West Hollywood City Council meeting on May 1, 2017 to discuss recreational marijuana ordinances.

I reached out to each of the council members present at the meeting and asked them to comment on the process of creating a cannabis ordinance and regulations for West Hollywood. I will update this article as they respond to include their comments.

John Heilman, Mayor Pro Tempore, supports adult recreational use cannabis in West Hollywood. One of his main concerns is protecting local businesses that decide to participate in the adult use market from federal intervention. Business operators are the ones that will be taking a risk. He believes that as long as those businesses understand the inherent risks (federal, banking, landlord issues, etc) associated with operating in the adult use market, business owners can make their own risk / reward determinations.

As I mentioned at the Council meeting I believe the Council and community are supportive of allowing sale of cannabis for adult recreational use just as we were supportive of medical marijuana. We need to have appropriate regulations and limitations. I think West Hollywood should be a leader in developing land use rules and licensing regulations. I also want those rules and regulations to be designed so businesses operating in West Hollywood are high caliber and responsive to the concerns of the residents and other businesses in the city. 

Questions being discussed by the West Hollywood City Council, staff, residents and experts.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

1. Should the City allow the existing medical marijuana collectives to also sell nonmedical marijuana?
2. Should the City limit the sale of non medical marijuana to locations where there are currently licensed medical marijuana dispensaries (four locations) or allow additional retail stores?

NONMEDICAL MARIJUANA – COMMERCIAL SALES AND USE

3. Should the City limit the number or location of marijuana retail stores?
4.  Should the City tie any retail sales of marijuana to the passage of a related sales tax ballot initiative on retail marijuana in 2019?
5.  Should the City prohibit the use of nonmedical marijuana on public property?
6.  Should the City permit home delivery of nonmedical marijuana to those persons 21 years of age within the City?
7.  Should the City prohibit the possession of and smoking of marijuana in any public place?
8.  Should the City allow city licensed nonmedical marijuana commercial retailers to cultivate marijuana indoors?
9.  Should the City allow the manufacture, extraction, testing, or processing of marijuana plants or products?
10. Should the City allow warehousing or storage of quantities of nonmedical (and medical) marijuana as a primary use in a structure?

NONMEDICAL MARIJUANA- RESIDENTIAL CULTIVATION

11. Should the City impose reasonable regulations on the indoor cultivation of nonmedical marijuana to ensure that this personal cultivation does not exceed the parameters allowed by law (only property owners or landlords can prohibit indoor residential cultivation)?
12. Should the City allow outdoor cultivation of non medical marijuana in backyards, private patios, or balconies?

SMOKING
13. Should the City prohibit smoking of marijuana on city property.

Public Comments

Wesley Bridle, Resident, West Hollywood

Wesley A. Bridle, West Hollywood speaking as a private citizen. Thank you Mayor and honorable Councilmembers. Thank you, city staff.

People say West Hollywood is a LBGT city, and I agree our city is supportive and representative of the LBGT community. But I would take it a step further and say that WeHo is a town of activist. Our city has activists in every shape, shade and gender identity. We have a whole big tent of advocation that includes cannabis activist.

It has been said that West Hollywood is a creative city, but when I look at the staff report I do not see our hallmark creativity, I see more of the same. AUMA has provided for the adult use of cannabis and has given us the opportunity to show our follow californians how a city at the forefront can be welcoming to a burgeoning new sector of our economy.

Yet the staff report doesn’t mention any of new businesses that are allowed under prop 64. It speaks nothing of onsite use locations, like the coffeeshops in Amsterdam. Nor does it talk of other cannabis business who operate in upscale health and beauty sector. New economies need new ways of thinking to change our norms.

Here in our city, We have sex shops and loud, proud bars that might be shut down if they had to operate under the same legislation that we subject our cannabis dispensaries too. Not to mention that our local laws have left us with a list of people who want to open cannabis dispensaries 30+ long. While others mysteriously transfer ownership and management. Only one of the four dispensaries still operates under the original owner.

Now I don’t want West Hollywood to go to pot. I don’t envision a radically different WeHo. I envision the same small city we know and love. Where we take a stand against oppression and implement creative solutions to build towards a more inclusive society.

So in a time when 45 appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions says “Good People don’t smoke marijuana.” It is my hope that West Hollywood is a town that says “We welcome the cannabis culture and our town will continue be a tourist destination location for all oppressed people.”

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Jackie Subeck, Resident, West Hollywood

In the interest of creating fair, equitable and inclusive cannabis policy for the West Hollywood community, I’d like to reference two major things that just happened in the State – 1) the Governor recently proposed a trailer bill as part of the State budget to serve as a reconciliation between medical and adult use regulations, and 2) the State agencies reponsible for cannabis including the Bureau of Marijuana Control issued the first draft of their regulations this past Friday. 

Unfortunately, these two sets of proposed regulations do not line up the way we believe they should be so it’s going to take a little time to get this all sorted out.  I’d like to make a note that some of the information contained in your staff reports has already changed and will likely change again after the 45 day public comment period is complete.  One simple example of this is the question of should the City allow medical and adult use cannabis to be sold in the same place?  Depending on how this all goes down at the State, that may not be allowed. 

I believe it is really important at this juncture to not limit the amount of licenses in any category, especially for dispensaries.   Although I urge you to continue this conversation, I also encourage you to hold off on making any final decisions because at this point, many of these proposed regulations could still change as it relates to State licensing and that could have a direct impact on the existing cannabis businesses already established in the City.

Finally, I just want to impress one other point upon you and that involves public consumption.  We all realize that this is a safety issue and one that really affects law enforcement.  Food for thought – rather than ban it and force people out onto the street to illegally consume, which is exactly what will happen, issue on-site consumption licenses to any and all retail establishments in the City that request it.  As long as they are compliant with City and State laws, there should be no problem and it will immediately alleviate any public safety concerns.

Thank you so much for your time.  I look forward to continuing this dialog with all.

 Press coverage

WEHOville.com (James Mills): WeHo City Council Contemplates Regulations for Recreational Marijuana Shops