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Concord city leaders recently approved a plan to draft a revised ordinance to adjust to recreational cannabis sales and production. City leaders have grappled with the decision to allow recreational cannabis after Proposition 64 was approved by voters in 2016, but they may soon cave.

After Proposition 64 took effect across California, Concord leaders implemented a temporary ban on cannabis activities, including retail businesses, but allowed medical cannabis distributors, manufacturers and testing laboratories. Concord is a family-friendly destination, geographically separated from the urban sprawl of Oakland and Berkeley. The city has been hesitant to open the doors to recreational cannabis sales until recently, especially considering that local residents protested and called the implementation of adult-use a “slippery slope.”

On Nov. 5, the Concord City Council voted to introduce an ordinance to amend Concord Municipal Code Chapter 5.80 and upgrade from medical to recreational cannabis. The City Council agreed to add adult-use to the ordinance and increase the maximum number of licenses for manufacturing, distribution and testing laboratories.

The ordinance is expected to allow for five manufacturing licenses, up from two, as well as three licenses for retail businesses without storefronts and three retailers with storefronts. It would also allow for two microbusinesses. There would be no cap on testing laboratories. The ordinance is also expected to establish 600-foot buffer zones around sensitive areas including schools and daycare facilities.

Coleman Frick is the senior planner of Community and Economic Development for the City of Concord. “The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 5, 2020 at the Planning Commission, where a recommendation will be made to the City Council regarding changes to the Development Code that are necessary for new cannabis business types to be located within certain areas of the city,” Frick told CULTURE. “The tentative date that the Ordinance will be considered by the City Council is March 24, 2020, the first reading of the Ordinance.”

“The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 5, 2020 at the Planning Commission, where a recommendation will be made to the City Council regarding changes to the Development Code that are necessary for new cannabis business types to be located within certain areas of the city.”

 

District 3’s Councilmember Dominic Aliano was slow to accept cannabis activity in the city, but later admitted that it’s better to regulate cannabis than to keep things as they are—which involves people obtaining cannabis illegally through the black market.

Frick clarified that the cap will not be raised until an ordinance amending city code has made its way through the city government and passed through all appropriate committees. “Note that the cap has not yet been raised; rather the Council has provided direction to bring back amendments for their consideration at a future meeting,” Frick added.

The designated available areas for cannabis business locations are already thoroughly defined. Businesses would be able to open in Concord’s approved industrial areas, which include a northern section of the city, north of Arnold Industrial Way and west of Port Chicago Highway. Acceptable areas would also include a small light-industrial area immediately east of Buchanan Field, a small light-industrial area surrounded by Interstate Highway 680, State Highway 242 and Willow Pass Road, and finally, a small light-industrial area south of Monument Boulevard near a Costco.

A city staff report also indicated that Concord could place a cannabis tax revenue measure before local voters in the near future. There are several more steps that lie ahead before recreational businesses can apply for licenses, once the amendments are approved.

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