Commercial Cannabis

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While California legalized cannabis (marijuana) with the passage of Proposition 64 in 2016, it is up to each municipality to decide if and how commercial cannabis retail, manufacturing, cultivation, events, and testing should be conducted in their communities. To date, the City of Monterey has not allowed for commercial cannabis retail, manufacturing, or cultivation. In our region, the cities of Seaside, Del Rey Oaks, and Marina, and the County of Monterey (unincorporated areas of Carmel, Big Sur, Moss Landing, et al.) have allowed commercial cannabis operations. In 2020, the City of Monterey began to consider a change in policy that

While California legalized cannabis (marijuana) with the passage of Proposition 64 in 2016, it is up to each municipality to decide if and how commercial cannabis retail, manufacturing, cultivation, events, and testing should be conducted in their communities. To date, the City of Monterey has not allowed for commercial cannabis retail, manufacturing, or cultivation. In our region, the cities of Seaside, Del Rey Oaks, and Marina, and the County of Monterey (unincorporated areas of Carmel, Big Sur, Moss Landing, et al.) have allowed commercial cannabis operations. In 2020, the City of Monterey began to consider a change in policy that could allow commercial cannabis activity.

At the December 1, 2020 City Council Meeting, staff provided a Roadmap to Cannabis, with the goal of "Getting it Right the First Time." The sections and links on this page provide an outline for commercial cannabis in the City of Monterey and are based on the road map foundation.

On December 15, 2020, the City Council passed a new ordinance amending the City Code to allow agricultural testing laboratories (including cannabis testing) as a conditionally permitted use in the I-R Zoning District. Basically, this will allow prospective testing laboratories to apply for a conditional use permit for cannabis testing labs. The City Planning Commission reviews use permits through a public hearing process that includes public noticing and meetings. This new law is effective on January 14, 2021.

For more background on California Cannabis Legislation, please visit the California Cannabis Portal at While the legislation begins at the state level, each City has the opportunity to enact its own Cannabis laws and regulations based on many factors, including what's the best for a particular community as a whole. The City of Monterey began this process in 2018.

Open Comments

Please post your open-ended comments about commercial cannabis operations here. To view comments or correspondence submitted to the City of Monterey via email, please view the "E-Mail Correspondence" folder under the Documents tab on the right side of the page.  Thank you!

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These days we hear a lot about social justice, and much of it stems from the unfair treatment of minorities and low-income citizens, discriminated by a system controlled by wealth and an elite class. After reading an email that was in the email correspondence folder I have to question a few things.

a previously appointed political figure asked a question, on behalf of a potential applicant. Why would this person ask a question on behalf of a potential applicant if not to seek preferential treatment with regards to this issue? Also why would he include his previous political title if not to induce the City to grant licensing that provides him, his family and client financial benefit. Use of the addresses listed, and any licensing of those named in that email may all be challenged as it may be reported as a violation of the DOI ethics code 5 C.F.R. 2635.702

There is several cases where that exact behavior was found to be in violation of that very ethics code. Even a few cases where this violation still applied to formerly appointed political figures after they left office. It’s unethical to use even a past position of power to persuade this City to do something out of financial benefit.

I believe it’s important that the City works with applicants who speak for themselves and know exactly what they are doing, as it sounds like this potential applicant is unsure of issues that are clearly covered by the BCC. The State laws specifically says “A licensed retailer may not accept, possess, or sell cannabis goods that are not packaged for final sale. A retailer may not package or label cannabis goods”.

Dealing with applicants that are still facing learning curves can only postpone and stall up the City’s goal, should they decide to issue licenses. This has happened in City’s all over California, in those situations the city granted licenses to applicants solely on their financial status or connection to the city only to learn that the applicant wasn’t aware of or ready for all the requirements and guidelines in place for this type of business.

The City has several candidates that are experienced and fully familiar with the laws that regulate cannabis in California. To allow someone who is new to this industry, just cause their connection to a political figure or their financial status would create a legal liability and be a big mistake on behalf of the city. I’m only looking out for City’s best interest.

Jhonrico over 1 year ago

Removed by moderator.

Jhonrico over 1 year ago

What was taking so long in the first place? Revenue sources should be sought out. Cannabis causes way less harm than alcohol- which also has had a negative impact on the downtown area. let us be up with the times and stop all taxes going to neighboring communities.

blindchrs over 1 year ago

For public knowledge...
There were a few points I was hoping to address during Thursday’s meeting, but I wanted to give others the chance to speak. I’d appreciate it if you’d take the time to read my views and points here in this email.

First off, Haus asked about social equity and how it relates to cannabis businesses. A couple of the speakers did a good job of explaining some of it, but I’d like to point out how it applies to myself and why social equity programs are so important. Many people of color have been incarcerated and persecuted for cannabis over the years. I myself was persecuted and forced into financial hardship while representing medical patients and caregivers as a director of MyCaregiver Cooperative. The City of Monterey’s previous city council and administration caused the threat of incarceration, loss of property and significant legal fees solely on the very issue this city is now entertaining on permitting, the distribution of cannabis. I see a problem with that when I was only practicing the state law, and defending the rights of medical patients and their caregivers. Back then was the time the city could have shown compassion and a caring nature to those suffering from major and terminal conditions. During the years I was a director for MyCaregiver Coop a mutual benefit not for profit, I suffered greatly at the hands of the City of Monterey. Due to that fact I clearly fall within the same category as many of the states current social equity operators. So it’s my intent to apply as a social equity applicant should the city offer this type of priority application.

It’s important to take note that a social equity program would be a form of social justice in which this city has said is an important issue. It’s also important to know that the BCC along with the Governor’s office have awarded grants and funding to city’s and counties that offer social equity programs, that show how important it is to our state. Monterey has the opportunity to set an example for the County in which carries its name.

Another issue I’d like to bring up is my views on using a merit system to determine a qualifying applicant. I do believe it’s important to determine that a cannabis operator is competent and able to follow the regulations as set forth by the California bureau of cannabis control. Also to be sure that an operator is not prohibited from operating this type of business within California. But, I believe basing a decision on how much someone has donated to the community, contributed to issues favored by city council members or staff, and/or how much someone is willing to spend to provide community upgrades, amounts to creating a discriminatory barrier for entry into the cannabis industry. There is plenty of qualified applicants that may come from less fortunate upbringings and who lack the financial means to contribute financially in those manners. I myself was not born into money, but that in no way means I wouldn’t be a contributing member of the community should the opportunity arise to do so.

When MyCaregiver Cooperative was operating I myself made regular contributions to local non profits, and even helped fund a few struggling local businesses all while dealing with unbearable legal fees brought on by the City of Monterey. That should be acknowledged, I’m curious how the City would include situations like that into a merit process. Back before MyCaregiver was forced to closed, and shame put on my name, I was a member of Kiwanis Monterey. During that time we provided several scholarships to local students heading to college and preparatory schools. I personally made significant contributions to those scholarships, I volunteered at food banks and donated food and supplies to struggling low income families from all over Monterey County. I was in the class of 2011 Leadership Monterey Peninsula, and have been a resident of the Monterey peninsula since 2009. I prioritize education, programs and services when it comes to operating a dispensary. I believe properly educating medical patients and recreational consumers helps detour drug abuse while building safeguards for our local community. I believe offering programs and services in addition to cannabis distribution encourages participation by those who patronize dispensaries. When MyCaregiver was operating I personally provided delivery to handicap and terminal patients. We provided member meetings, support groups and gave employment opportunities to local Monterey residents. We were working on providing medical benefits to our employees and establishing a medical insurance option for our members. MyCaregiver cooperative collected and paid sales tax contributing more than fifty thousand in taxes as a not for profit. I’m confident if the City of Monterey wouldn’t have damaged the reputation of MyCaregiver back then we would have contributed a significant amount more and by now would have easily been contributing in the high six figures.

MyCaregiver Cooperative was located in the Lighthouse New Monterey business district, my previous landlord can attest that we were 2 month ahead in rent. So the only reason we were forced to move was due to pressure cause by the City of Monterey. It is my request should the city issue licensing in the Lighthouse area that I may be given priority application for that same district, as I would still be located there if never pressured out by the City.

Out of 13 dispensaries throughout Monterey county, many of them have the same owner or owners. This county is encouraging monopolies within the cannabis industry. I think it’s important to point out that licensing an applicant that owns another dispensary within 30 mins distance from Monterey only continues to encourage this practice. If the city chooses to offer licenses they should be sure to offer priority application to applicants that don’t have multiple dispensaries especially dispensaries so close to one another. Give tourists and local consumers new and different options that will open more revenue possibilities. If you think about it new businesses and new options will encourage locals to at very least try out those new options offered in Monterey.

If the city decides to move forward on issuing licenses for cannabis retail businesses, regardless which process the City decides on using to chose who get a license for a cannabis retail business I’d like to be taken seriously as a candidate.

Thanks for your time,

Jhonrico Carr

Jhonrico over 1 year ago

I feel that I would like to hear feedback from more of the business owners who could possibly have a cannabis store located next to their building. If it was approved, security would be important on site plus a limited quantity of stores to start out with, too. Thank you!

Wendybrickman over 1 year ago

Concerning the Commercial Cannabis Postcard Survey:
The final 3 questions are worded in an ambiguous way. For example, "I am concerned about impacts on youth" would be better stated as "I am concerned about the impacts of cannabis retail locations on our local youth." The lack of context within the question is likely to lead to responses that do not accurately reflect public opinion.
Am I concerned about the youth in general? Yes.
Do I think that cannabis storefronts will negatively effect the youth population in Monterey? No.

Chad8989 over 1 year ago

The Email Correspondence folder has been updated with public comment, emails and letters received by City staff and the City Council. Please see the Documents tab in the right sidebar of this webpage.

Facilitator over 1 year ago

Emailed comment from Perfect Union Recreational Marijuana Dispensary:

Facilitator over 1 year ago
Page last updated: 15 Sep 2022, 09:59 AM