- Posted by Erica Treeby
- On November 12, 2016
- cannabis, Cannabis Permit, commercial medical cannabis, cultivation, dispensaries, MCRSA, regulations, zoning ordinance
Known for its moderate weather, ocean views, redwood forests, and liberal leanings, the City of Santa Cruz is the largest city in the county seat with a population of over 60,000. It was also the first city in the county to permit medical cannabis dispensaries.
Over ten years ago, Santa Cruz’s City Council approved the operation of two medical marijuana retail operations within its jurisdiction. Although the number of permitted dispensaries remains unchanged, the City’s medical cannabis regulations have not. Following an influx of inquiries from members of the public seeking to establish local medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites; in 2010, Santa Cruz’s legislators enacted Ordinances 2010-08, 2010-10, and 2010-15. The ordinances, which both amended and added sections to the Santa Cruz Municipal Code, remain in effect today.
- Ordinance 2010-08 modified the standards for medical marijuana dispensaries.
- Ordinance 2010-10 required each medical marijuana dispensary operating in the City to submit an annual report to document the dispensary’s compliance with the requirements of the State Law, the Attorney General’s Guidelines and the City Municipal Code.
- Ordinance 2010-15 allows dispensaries to operate on Sundays as long as the dispensary is located at least 50 feet from any residential use. The ordinance also added Section 24.10.1510-2m of the Municipal Code which pertains to smoking lounges defined in Section 24.22.748.2 and subject to the siting criteria and performance standards in Chapter 5.54
Currently, medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed in Community Commercial (C-C), Thoroughfare Commercial (C-T), and General-Industrial (G-I) Districts; provided, that they meet the siting criteria and performance standards described in Section 24.12.1300 of the City’s Municipal Code, and are authorized pursuant to the procedures described in Section 24.08.040 for a special use permit. Under the regulations, special use permits may be granted to a maximum of two dispensaries operating within the city of Santa Cruz.
Siting Criteria: If the proposed dispensary location is within 50 feet of any residential use, the applicant must demonstrate to the zoning board that “the use would not create an intensity of use that is incompatible with the nearby residential use” and would not “adversely affect the safety of the residential uses. Additionally, the proposed site must be at least 600 feet from schools, parks, residential zone districts, and other dispensaries. (Santa Cruz Municipal Code Section 24.12.1300).
Performance Standards: Once permitted, medical cannabis dispensaries must comply with a host of regulations; including:
- area within the dispensary used for cultivation may not exceed 3,000 feet of floor area;
- adequate security must be provided by the dispensary;
- signage may not be illuminated; and
- to offset power consumption, the dispensary must install solar panels to provide as much power as possible for the indoor cultivation of cannabis.
Given the recent enactment of the Medical Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act (AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643), it is likely that the City of Santa Cruz will follow suit with additional regulations designed to align the City’s laws with those of the State.
Contact CannaBusinessLaw for expert assistance in compliance with cannabis licensing, permitting and the application process relating to commercial cannabis in California.