TOML Cannabis Working Group

Based on the responses received at the cannabis workshop in August 2017, staff assembled a cannabis working group to discuss the Town’s cannabis regulatory framework and provide recommendations on the cannabis regulations. The input received from the working group was used to develop the draft cannabis regulations. The cannabis working group was comprised of: Town Planning, Finance, and Police Department staff; Fire and Water District staff; Members of the Town Council and Planning and Economic Development Commission; and Mono County staff from Planning, Finance, and the Administrators office. Below is a summary of the items discussed at the working group meetings:

The working group discussed various tax scenarios and timing and the recommendation from the group was to retain a consultant who specializes in the development of cannabis tax ballot measures. Mono County staff indicated they had entered into a contract with Hdl to provide assistance with their tax measure. Based on the County’s use of Hdl and the Town’s previous use of Hdl for sales tax reporting, the Town has entered into a contract with Hdl. 

Peer Resort Comparison
At the first working group meeting in September 2017, it was suggested to look at what peer resort communities in Colorado had done with regards to legalization of cannabis and provide a summary of issues they had encountered. Staff analyzed seven resort communities in Colorado and were able to draw relevant conclusions from each community about the successes and/or failures of various ways of regulating cannabis businesses. The comparison report was presented at the working group meeting in November 2017 (Report available HERE).

Based on the conclusions drawn from the Peer Resort Comparison, the working group provided feedback that it was logical to use a land use approach to determine where cannabis retailers could be located. Based on that feedback, staff proposed using buffers from sensitive land uses and minimum distance requirements between cannabis retailers to regulate the locations. The alternative to this approach would be to select an arbitrary number of retailers that would be permitted within the Town. At the December 2017 working group meeting, a series of maps were presented to the group showing the areas that could be available for a cannabis retailer based on various buffer scenarios. The recommendation from the working group was to use the State required 600-foot buffer from schools (K-12), day care centers, and youth centers and require a minimum separation of at least 500-feet between cannabis retail businesses and add a 600-foot buffer from parks for cannabis retail businesses. For other commercial cannabis uses (i.e., manufacturing, testing, distribution, and cultivation), the recommendation was to only use the State required buffers from schools (K-12), day care centers, and youth centers since these uses will only be permitted in the Industrial zone and will not be open to the public. Maps of the preferred buffer zones are available at the following links:

Proposed Cannabis Retailer Locations
Proposed Industrial Buffers for Cannabis Businesses

Industrial Zone Uses
Staff presented information on various quasi-industrial cannabis activities, such as cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and testing to the working group and discussed the various issues associated with each use. Staff indicated that at a recent workshop staff had attended, the presenters provided the following impact summary of the various commercial cannabis uses:

  1. The impacts of manufacturing, distribution, and testing are relatively benign and that the use should be treated the same as any other industrial use. Specific operating standards related to security measures, fire protection requirements, and product handling will minimize impacts for the surrounding area.
  2. The impacts of cultivation are unique and are related to odor and plant theft. By allowing indoor cultivation only, the risk of plant theft can be minimized through the implementation of adequate security measures and odor issues can be minimize by requiring specialized air filtering and ventilation.
  3. The impacts of retailers are the most evident and are mostly related to loitering and public use of products.

The following summarizes the recommendations of the working group for the Industrial zone:

  1. Cannabis retailers should not be permitted in the Industrial zone since the use is not consistent with the intended purpose of the Industrial zone and the lack of visibility and traffic during the evening hours, which could lead to an increase in crime.
  2. Based on the increased fire danger and the numerous unknowns associated with volatile extraction, manufacturing that utilize volatile solvents (i.e., butane, hexane, propane) for extraction should not be allowed.
  3. There is no definitive data to support a need to place a limitation on the number of commercial cannabis businesses in the Industrial zone. The recommendation of the group was to monitor the number of inquiries or applications that are received for cannabis businesses in the Industrial zone and if the need arises due to a lack of available space for other industrial uses, implement a cap on the number of cannabis businesses allowed in the Industrial zone.
  4. With regards to operating and development standards, the group recommended looking at the standards adopted in other cities and in the State regulations.

Personal Cultivation
Under the AUMA, adults 21 years of age or older are allowed to possess and use up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis, and to possess up to six (6) living cannabis plants and the cannabis produced by those plants. The AUMA allows cities to prohibit outdoor growing of cannabis and to enforce reasonable regulations to regulate the indoor growing of cannabis.

The recommendations of the working group was to prohibit outdoor grows and for indoor grows, review the regulations other agencies have adopted.