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Cannabis study at the City Council

5/31 City Council meeting

On the docket: Item 26 - Overview of the Comprehensive Cannabis Study and Policy Recommendations Regarding Ownership, Land Use, and Fiscal/Economic Issues

Meeting page linked here

Meeting Video linked here

Councilmember Schenirer, who Mayor Steinberg said led the Law and Legislation Committee’s efforts on the ‘Comprehensive Cannabis Study,’ (report linked here) made opening remarks and acknowledged the difficulty the City has had developing cannabis policy without a model out there to reference. Councilmember Schenirer said cannabis tax revenue adds up to about $25 million a year “flowing” to the City’s General Fund.

Davina Smith, Manager for the Office of Cannabis Management gave a presentation on the City Council’s Law and Legislation Committee’s Recommendations on cannabis business ownership issues, locations of cannabis businesses, and taxation. The slides can be found here.

Over a dozen callers weighed in, including multiple small local cannabis owners. Several people talked about the lasting inequities from the war on drugs and the City’s racialized enforcement of cannabis. Malaki, Director of Institute for Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Equity (Institute for MORE), called out the EPS study’s (the study was conducted by the City’s contractor, “EPS”) omission of these factors and asked for the “equity” (via license streamlining and more resources for Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment And Equity [CORE]) that was mentioned several times in the presentation. City's CORE page linked here, slide deck with more details on the program linked here.

The next several commenters expressed similar sentiments, calling for Council members to prioritize CORE businesses disproportionately impacted by barriers to entry to the regulated cannabis industry.

Multiple commenters also asked the City to align their regulations with the well-established policies set at the state level and to lower taxes that have the greatest burden on small cannabis businesses owned by people of color. At least one caller made comments expressing concern over oversaturation and close proximity to cannabis businesses and negative impacts on other businesses and residences.

Councilmember Valenzuela made statements highlighting the potential for cannabis lounges to be a topic of discussion for the City Council. Councilmember Guerra asked Davina to speak to impacts to communities, such as in the Power Inn area.

Let it be known:

Davina said cannabis businesses have not statistically impacted crime rates (for crimes like burglaries or robberies) in neighborhoods based on crime statistics collected from the Sacramento Police Department and cannabis business inspections

This seems important to emphasize, considering how convinced so many people seem to be that cannabis businesses will "increase crime."

Davina said displacement issues have evened out as the cannabis industry has developed in Sacramento and that overall, the presence of a cannabis business has not been shown to negatively impact commercial real estate values or residential property sales. Councilmember Loloee asked questions getting at ways to expedite permit or land use zoning decisions to support businesses. He was intrigued by the “lounge” idea, which his office has been getting a lot of calls about. He said he hopes the Law and Leg Committee will find a solution on lounges. Then he talked about what he knows about business, taxes, loans. The recommendations were approved unanimously.

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