In October, the City Council passed a temporary ordinance that changed zoning ordinances to allow existing medical marijuana facilities to sell to anyone 21 years or older. The ordinance goes into effect next Thursday, the 14, and is set to expire in February giving staff time to draft a permanent ordinance.

However, staff is proposing to extend the temporary ordinance (agenda, Item 10a) for another two years, giving staff more than enough time to complete these changes.

The report reads:

Over this timeframe, staff will return to Council with an ordinance allowing for adult-use cannabis retail business and non-retail business types within the City and will conduct an equity study and create a cannabis social equity program to help ensure that the communities most impacted by federal and state cannabis enforcement policies are provided an opportunity to benefit from the cannabis industry.

Currently, there are two licensed marijuana retailers in the city, one of which is open and the other is still in the permitting process.

In November of 2022, Santa Monica voters passed a ballot measure creating a local tax schedule for marijuana sales. The rates are 3% of gross receipts for adult-use cannabis retailers, 2% for medicinal cannabis retailers, and 1% on other cannabis 5 of 9 business types. The staff report notes that only 9% of marijuana sales statewide are medical in purpose, so that expanding what local dispensaries can sell could also be part of the city’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

If for whatever reason the City Council feels the program isn’t working or wishes to abandon making it permanent, there is nothing in the two-year extension that prohibits them from ending or amending the interim ordinance. If the ordinance is passed at Tuesday’s meeting and either changed or ended before February 2026, the two licensed distributors would still be able to sell marijuana for medicinal purposes.

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