PALMDALE — The Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee will meet today as it begins in earnest discussions regarding the future of commercial marijuana businesses in the city.
The committee meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the City Administrative Office, 38300 Sierra Highway, Suite A, and is open to the public.
Along with councilmembers Steve Hofbauer and Laura Bettencourt, the committee consists of Planning commissioners Bart Avery and Stacia Nemeth and community members Matthew Petri, Ken Hart, Josepth Parisio, Adam Murren, Sam Campaneli and Diane Carlton.
The committee is tasked with returning recommendations to the City Council regarding whether the city should lift its existing ban on all commercial cannabis activities and if so, how to regulate such businesses within the city.
The commercial cannabis industry consists of cultivation, manufacturing (in which oils are extracted from the plants and used in other forms, such as edibles or topical treatments), testing (as required under state law), distribution and retail sales.
After a series of meetings with consultants from HdL Companies to delve into the details of the industry and regulation, the committee today will begin “discussion of whether Palmdale should continue its ban of commercial cannabis activities or should it explore avenues to regulate the industry in Palmdale,” according to the agenda.
At the initial committee meeting in August, Hofbauer described the committee’s work as “more of a process than an event,” in which the group will take a deliberative and thorough approach to examine the opportunities and pitfalls of allowing cannabis businesses in Palmdale.
“Cities that have not gone cautiously in their rulemaking and their regulatory issues, like Cal City, it’s been a major disaster,” Bettencourt said. “This has to be thought out in absolute detail before it goes forward in our city or we will face the financial and social crisis that Cal City is facing.”
California City voted to allow medical cannabis businesses in August 2016 and has since expanded to allow recreational, also known as adult-use, cannabis. Although the city received and approved a wealth of permits, establishment of the businesses themselves has been far slower than anticipated, and the expected tax revenues have not yet materialized.
The council established the Ad-Hoc Cannabis Committee in July 2017 in response to the passage of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.
The act, which was approved by voters as Proposition 64 in November 2016, went into effect Jan. 1. The new law is intended to protect and expand upon medical marijuana access in the state, and legalize and control non-medical adult cultivation, use, and sales.
The law allows people to grow marijuana for their own use, but authorizes cities and counties to ban businesses selling marijuana and allows them to impose regulations on individuals growing marijuana.
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