A Cannabis Social Equity Program Could Apply to Two Medicinal Cannabis Retailers in the City
By Zach Armstrong
Approved changes to Santa Monica’s zoning code are set to bolster retail sales of recreational marijuana within the city.
As part of the changes, approved during city council’s Oct. 24 meeting, “adult-use” cannabis sales and delivery are allowed for Local Cannabis Co. and Harvest of Santa Monica, the two medicinal cannabis retailers in the city with active Conditional Use Permits. An Interim Zoning Ordinance was also approved that eliminates some requirements and allows medicinal retailers within Santa Monica to deliver, cultivate and sell adult-use cannabis or products to those at least 21-years-old.
A 3% tax of gross receipts is placed for adult-use cannabis sales. The “cannabis business tax” those sales are subject to was recently approved in a measure by 66% of Santa Monica voters and could be adjusted by city council but can’t go higher than 10% unless approved by voters.
A cannabis social equity program, also recently approved, could apply to the two aforementioned medicinal cannabis retailers. The goal of the program is for communities most impacted by marijuana enforcement policies to benefit from a growing cannabis industry. Implementation of council direction is forthcoming, according to a release from the city.
In 2015, the City adopted regulations that enabled up to two medical marijuana retailers within Santa Monica subject to a regulated selection process while all other cannabis uses were prohibited. One of the selected retailers, Local Cannabis Co., recently opened at 925 Wilshire Blvd. while Harvest of Santa Monica, located at 1416 Wilshire Blvd., is undergoing a permitting process. During a June study session, council discussed policy changes for adult-use cannabis and other non-retail marijuana businesses, and directed an ordinance be created to allow two previously approved Medicinal Cannabis Retailers to sell adult-use products.
“Expanding adult-use cannabis retail in the City can also help with economic recovery efforts.” stated a staff report on the zoning changes. “The economic impacts of the COVID-19 closures of, and limitations on, businesses and resulting behavior changes continue to affect the local Santa Monica economy. As the commercial and economic landscape evolves, the City’s economic recovery and competitive advantage will depend on its ability to deliver on a diverse range of unique dining, retail, commercial, and entertainment uses and other revenue streams.”