Money and Business

Santa Barbara City Council expects to have cannabis ordinance by end of year

Murillo: "They won't be near schools"

Santa Barbara City Cannabis rules one...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara City Council members debated cannabis regulatory and zoning ordinances for nearly four hours on Tuesday night.

One council member said he wanted to avoid "Reefer Madness," which happens to be the title of a cult propaganda film about students being lured by dealers to try marijuana. 

The city council introduced and adopted a handful of ordinances that still need final readings at the council's next meeting on Dec. 5.

Councilmembers said they wanted to be flexible enough to make changes after recreational marijuana use becomes legal on Jan. 1, 2018.

Outgoing Mayor Helene Schneider said 74% of Santa Barbara voters voted in favor of Prop. 64, legalizing the adult use of marijuana.

Schneider favored adopting ordinances to give the city local control. But Randy Rowse opposed to some of the rules that will allow residents to grow backyard plants to and other rules that are likely to help the industry grow.

Councilmembers went over and over zoning maps recommended by city staff. City Administrator Paul Casey said the council favors limiting the retail licenses to five. He said the five businesses chosen would be in addition to several medicinal businesses.

Mayor-Elect Cathy Murillo said there would be at least 1,000 feet between each operation with manufacturing and retail limited to industrial and commercial zones.

"They won't be near schools," said Murillo.

During public comments, Adrian Sedlin introduced himself as a Harvard MBA who has sold a company to Motorola. Sedlin is now the CEO of Canndescent.

The company hopes to open upscale cannabis retail businesses like one that just opened in Beverly Hills.

"If you make it seem like you are doing something unseemly you attract the nuisance clientele as opposed to attracting the Montecito mom or the Hope Ranch mom who wants to find an alternative to Xanax," said Sedlin. 

Sedlin warned the council about over taxing and regulating. He said that could benefit the black market.

Council members are in favor of a three-phase selection process with a March 30, application deadline. The most qualified candidates would be chosen in late May and would then apply for state approval. 

The council also voted in favor of the state guidelines allowing residents to grow up to six plants. Only one of the six plants would be allowed to be grown outdoors.

City staff said by going along with the state guidelines the city will qualify for some of the state's marijuana tax funds earmarked for police and fire departments dealing with cannabis issues.

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