Medical Marijuana

A shift in Monterey County policies embracing the regulation of commercial medical cannabis was made apparent Tuesday night at two city council meetings.

First, Del Rey Oaks.

The tiny town’s city council voted in favor of amending its existing ordinance, which allows a medical dispensary to operate within city limits, and added delivery services and residential cultivation to the mix.

This means qualified patients and their caregivers can grow medical marijuana indoors, if limited to a single room no larger than 50 square feet, as well as outdoors if the grow is limited to 12 plants.

The primary caregiver, or patient, may store no more than three pounds of pot. The extraction of chemical compounds from marijuana is prohibited, according to the ordinance.

“This regulations do not restrict the ability of the one permitted dispensary to grow, distribute or transport medical cannabis in conformance with State Law,” the ordinance reads.

A couple hours later Salinas City Council voted to allow medical dispensaries as well as commercial cultivation, production and delivery services within city limits—becoming the second city in the county to do so.

The vote inspired several members of the public to applaud the city council members. The ordinance goes into effect in 30 days.

The application process for potential commercial cannabis businesses is not yet open, says City Attorney Chris Callihan, who has received at least a dozen inquiring calls in less than a day.

The council voted to allow up to three business permits for each of the four cannabis business models. The dispensaries will operate every day except Sundays, from 8am to 7pm.

A special medical marijuana tax was also approved by the council, which will be up for a vote during the November general election.

“If (voters) don’t approve the sales tax to cover the city’s costs then we can’t have the ordinance,” Mayor Joe Gunter said at the meeting.

The Salinas Planning Commission recommended to council a tax of up to 15 percent, but some council members leaned toward a 10 percent tax.


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