Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jun 2016
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2016 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Karina Ioffee


No Cap on Permits; Policy Among Most Liberal in Area

RICHMOND - This city could soon become a major hub for marijuana 
cultivation and manufacturing after the passage of one of the most 
liberal policies in the Bay Area.

Starting Friday, Richmond will allow an unlimited number of permits 
for commercial cannabis grows as well as businesses that produce 
edibles like cookies, brownies and tinctures. The goal of the new law 
is to bring a sometimes shady industry into the light and generate 
money for a city that is perpetually strapped for cash.

"We're going to be in full tax-collection mode," said Mayor Tom Butt, 
who estimates that it could bring in $1 million each year. "We want the money."

The move is similar to changes in Oakland, which in May expanded the 
number of medical marijuana dispensaries and related businesses 
operating in the city. That city's policy is expected to bring in an 
estimated 30 cultivators and 28 manufacturing businesses.

In contrast, all other cities in Contra Costa and Alameda counties 
ban marijuana cultivation, with the exception of Martinez, which 
allows it at approved dispensaries.

"Richmond is out ahead of the curve on this and one of the 
jurisdictions leading in this movement to regulate this activity," 
said Alex Zavell, a senior regulatory analyst at the Robert Raich law 
firm in Oakland, which focuses on medical cannabis cases. "It's an 
approach that uses zoning tools to equate cannabis activity to other 
industrial and commercial uses instead of putting some sort of cap on 

Under the new law, businesses will be required to locate in 
neighborhoods zoned light industrial and submit detailed security and 
safety plans that will be reviewed by both the Police and Fire 
departments. Applicants will also have to show that their facility 
will derive 100 percent of its energy from renewable materials before 
the application is even considered by the City Council. Once up and 
running, the businesses will be taxed 5 percent of all sales.

Temple Extracts, a cannabis oil and extract manufacturing company now 
based in Berkeley, is one of a handful of applicants lining up for a permit.

The changes come after the passage of the state Medical Marijuana 
Regulation and Safety Act, an attempt to create guidelines for the 
industry nearly two decades after California voters legalized medical 
marijuana. The new legislation, which sets up a formal state 
licensing process scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2018, has prompted 
a scramble by cities to establish clearer guidelines for medical 
cannabis operations.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom