Sacramento City Council Passes Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance, Tables Delivery For Now
SACRAMENTO — Marijuana cultivation is legal in Sacramento city limits after more than three and a half hours of discussion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
The city council voted 5-3 to pass an ordinance that regulates marijuana growing.
In a late night session, City Councilman Schenirer motioned to pass the ordinance with a few nuanced changes about fines for illegal operations and more structure in the neighborhood outreach plan.
Schenirer also pulled the marijuana delivery ordinance from the discussion to be looked at at another date. He said he’d like to see a delivery ordinance with a more robust set of regulations.
“It’s here. Prop 64 passed; it’s only going to continue to grow,” said Schenirer.
He says the marijuana industry is moving in and it may be here to stay.
“Our responsibility is to regulate it and take the benefits from that for the city,” said Schenirer.
Right now, Schenirer says there are 400 to 500 illegal cultivation operations in the city.
The council spent nearly a year scripting regulations to take the black market and make it mainstream.
“The city is getting no benefit off of that and there are negative impacts because these are illegal. They’re in places they shouldn’t be,” Schenirer explained.
To shape a legal industry in Sacramento, the council voted to require cultivation businesses to have a community outreach, security, and odor control plan. Permit applicants will need background checks as well.
“We’re setting a standard of what we have to insure that a new industry whatever it may be has to have a commitment to our neighborhoods,” said Council member Eric Guerra.
Those in support, like Schenirer tout the potential for 20,000 jobs and $2.2 million dollars in revenue for the general fund.
“Those are both good things,” said Schenirer, “We want the jobs, we want the revenue for the general fund”
There will be a business operations tax of 4 percent that would go to the general fund. Another 1 percent tax would go to the neighborhoods to help mitigate any negative effects from marijuana cultivation businesses.
Council Member Allen Warren expressed that he would like to see the neighborhood tax increase to 3 percent.
With a total city budget of more than $960 million, some in the community feel the green money isn’t worth the risks.
“Take your dope somewhere else,” said Bishop Ron Allen.
Allen is a faith-based leader in Districts 2 and 6 of the city. Those areas are where cultivation businesses are expected to migrate.
“They need to try and shut them down, not try and make money with them,” said Allen.
He says some communities have been ignored for their input and unable to adequately weigh in on the influx of marijuana businesses.
“They don’t want it there,” said Allen, “they don’t want council to be that drug dealer that’s bringing the dope into the community.”
“We’re moving in the right direction,” said Council Member Allen Warren.
Warren says cultivation businesses could be a “catalyst” to improving lives in the city.
“This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to turn around communities that have been hurting for years,” said Warren.
Yet Warren couldn’t support the cultivation and delivery ordinance as it was presented on Tuesday night. Angelque Ashby and Jeff Harris also voted against the ordinance. Harris said the ordinance as presented on Tuesday was “half baked.”
Permits won’t be issued for several months. The council will also look at fee recommendations and a fine structure for illegal cultivation businesses in the coming months.