- Posted by Erica Treeby
- On August 31, 2016
- cannabis, Cannabis License, Cannabis Permit, dispensary, Medical Marijuana, Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, regulation, zoning
On August 2nd, 2016, Santa Cruz’s Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance regulating the licensing of medical cannabis dispensaries within the county. The ordinance, which adds Chapter 7.130 to the Santa Cruz County Code, was first presented to the Board at the May 24th hearing and underwent minor revisions before its final approval. One of the goals of the ordinance was to allow dispensaries to participate in the state’s licensing system enacted by the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MCRSA”), a compilation of recently enacted AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643. The new local ordinance creates the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Licensing Program, which will be operated by a Licensing Official appointed by the County Administrative Officer.
First District Supervisor John Leopold, who proposed the ordinance, worked with County Counsel to draft an ordinance that would allow the licensing of storefront dispensaries under similar conditions that the county has under its limited immunity model. The limited immunity model, which was adopted by the Board in December 2013, prohibited medical cannabis businesses but also granted a limited immunity from enforcement for medical cannabis businesses that complied with restrictions and limitations added by Chapter 7.124 of the County Code. Restrictions such as the residential and school zone buffers remain the same. Dispensaries must be 300 feet from residential neighborhood and 600 feet from schools and other dispensaries.
Applications for a dispensary license will be accepted from September 1, 2016 to November 30, 2016, only. The ordinance limits the dispensaries that may apply to fourteen pre-existing dispensaries, including Capitola Healing Association, Central Coast Wellness Center, Creekside Collective, and several more. Dispensaries not specifically listed in Chapter 7.130.090 are not eligible to apply. With limited exceptions, the dispensaries may only apply for a license to operate on the parcel at which they are currently operating a dispensary. Dispensaries that are granted a license are permitted to deliver cannabis to patients off-site via mobile delivery services.
Although an applicant or owner of a dispensary must pass a background check as part of the application process, the restrictions are less stringent than nearby counties. Applicants or owners of a licensed dispensary will fail a background check if they have any felony conviction within the past 10 years. However, an exception is granted for cannabis-related felony convictions prior to January 1, 2016, unless the offense involved sales to a minor.