Monterey County Implements and Adopts Permitting Requirements for Commercial Cannabis Operations: Cultivation, Manufacturing and Retail
- Posted by Erica Treeby
- On December 5, 2016
- cannabis, Cannabis License, Cannabis Permit, commercial medical cannabis, dispensaries, manufacturing, MCRSA, Medical Marijuana, regulations, urgency ordinance, zoning
After months of public hearings and consultations with local agencies, the Board of Supervisors recently adopted ordinances aimed at regulating commercial cannabis activity within Monterey County. The ordinances, which became operative upon the passage of the commercial cannabis tax measure at the November 8 election, added Chapters 7.90 and 7.95 to the Monterey County Code, and amended Title 21 of the Code.
In October 2015, California passed the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MCRSA”), a compilation of recently enacted AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643, which created a new state licensing program for all commercial medical cannabis activities, including cultivation, manufacturing, dispensing, distribution and transportation. Under MCRSA, the state will not issue licenses for medical marijuana business activities in Monterey without written authorization from the county. The goal of Monterey’s new regulations is to align with MCRSA, and provide a system for local permitting of commercial medical cannabis activities.
Monterey County determined that as medical cannabis businesses are tied to zoning, land use permits would be appropriate. In addition to adding uses allowed in certain zoning districts, the ordinances amended Title 21 of the Monterey County Code, which contains regulations specific to each type of medical cannabis activity. Zoning limits and land use standards are used to direct commercial medical cannabis activities to areas that already accommodate uses of similar character.
Per the county’s new rules, dispensaries are permitted in the Light Commercial or Heavy Commercial zoning districts, similar to the way a pharmacy or liquor store is permitted under the current zoning regulations. Commercial manufacturing activities are permitted only within the Heavy Commercial, Light Industrial, and Agricultural Industrial zoning districts. Manufacturing involving volatile processes or chemicals are solely permitted in the Heavy Industrial zoning district.
The zoning regulations are not the only restrictive measure under the new laws. Commercial cannabis operations are required to submit to warrantless entry by County officials at any time between 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., without notice, for the purpose of checking compliance with manufacture, waste and storage requirements. Furthermore, the local laws prohibit any medical cannabis business from also selling, storing or using alcoholic beverages on the premises. The consumption of cannabis on the premises is also forbidden.
Finally, the permit requirements create restrictions for those with a criminal record. Permits will be denied to any property owner, supervisor, employee, or person having a ten percent or more financial interest in the commercial medical cannabis activity, who has been convicted of a felony or a drug related misdemeanor reclassified by Proposition 47 within the past ten years.
Monterey’s progressive regulatory scheme indicates that it intends to welcome cannabis businesses…..sometime in the near future. Per Interim Urgency Ordinance No. 5256, there is a moratorium in place until February 27, 2017, on new cannabis-related businesses. However, the moratorium contains several exemptions: (1) qualified patients or caregivers who cultivate in accord with Health & Safety Code section 11362.77; (2) cultivation that commenced with all required local permits obtained or applied for prior to July 7, 2015; (3) dispensaries that commenced with all required local permits obtained or applied for prior to July 7, 2015; and (4) cultivation in greenhouses or indoor sites that have made a “substantial financial investment” in their business prior to July 7, 2015, when the moratorium took effect.
CannaBusiness Law is your premier legal resource for expert assistance in compliance with cannabis licensing, permitting and the application process relating to commercial cannabis in California.