WALNUT CREEK (BCN) – The Walnut Creek City Council on Tuesday will consider allowing non-medical cannabis businesses to operate within the city.

In 2018, the city adopted its own regulations for “personal and commercial cannabis activities,” according to a staff report for Tuesday’s meeting. The current ordinance allows for up to two non-storefront, delivery-only cannabis retailers within city limits.

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At the time, the city said not enough was known about potential impacts to the community if it allowed wider use. It was also concerned about additional crime and that residents didn’t want more of a visible presence of cannabis in the city. Only one of the two allowable businesses opened as a result.

Earlier this year, the city reassessed its ordinance and looked at the impact on 28 other local jurisdictions allowing some form of cannabis sales.

In California, medical cannabis was legalized in 1996 and non-medical use for people 21 and over was legalized in 2016.

The report points out that 70 percent of cannabis use is recreational and taxable, with the rest being medicinal (which isn’t taxable). Moving away from prescription use will increase taxable sales, it says, and “existing retail stores in Martinez and Antioch are doing extremely well, and in the next eight to 12 months, one new store will open in Pacheco and four to five new retail stores will open in Concord. There is an estimated demand for approximately 10 to 12 more retail stores in Contra Costa County.”

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If recreational sales are legal, the city could collect revenue not only through sales tax, but through business licensing and permit fees. A local sales tax could also be imposed on businesses outside the city that deliver within city limits.

The city could also consider allowing cultivation and preparation of cannabis products within city limits. It also has a few options to control cannabis sales, including a limit on licenses, buffer zones, land use constraints, and security requirements.

City staff is presenting options to the council, including no change to the current regulations, modifying them to allow limited retail recreational sales, expanding regulations to allow more than two storefront retailers and delivery businesses, or expanding rules to include cultivation, manufacturing, and other uses.

The Walnut Creek City Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the council chambers, 1666 North Main Street, Walnut Creek. The meeting can be seen virtually at http://www.zoom.us, webinar ID 859 4685 0285, passcode 150667.

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