The city of Sacramento soon may begin accepting applications from businesses wanting to cultivate marijuana.
A City Council committee this week voted to lift Sacramento’s moratorium on commercial cannabis cultivation. The action means that aspiring marijuana businesses would be able to apply for cultivation permits beginning April 2 under a new ordinance that could position the capital city as regional hub for commercial pot production.
The council in November voted 5-3 to allow licensed recreational or medical marijuana cultivation in city limits under state rules governing the marijuana industry. But it is unlikely that the city will be issuing actual permits for cultivation businesses until months after the application period opens.
“This was a logistical step we needed to take to move on,” said City Council member Jay Schenirer after the council’s Law and Legislation Committee on Tuesday set a date for the application period to begin. The committee’s action still needs to be approved by the full council.
Schenirer said city officials still need to establish permit fees and requirements, an action that is expected in February, before being able to review applications on a “first come, first served basis” and begin granting business permits three to four months after that.
About 200 cultivators, many already be operating, previously registered with the city in the hopes of getting a formal permit. They will have to apply with all other applicants and meet zoning requirements that will allow marijuana growing in enclosed buildings in warehouse, light industrial and limited commercial zones located more than 600 feet from schools.
In a related action, the council committee also advanced a plan that could allow certain people with criminal convictions for marijuana offenses to be issued marijuana business licenses.
Under the plan, still to be approved by the City Council, people with past marijuana convictions could seek a hearing with the city manager’s office to obtain permission for a business permit. The plan would prohibit marijuana business licenses from being given to anyone with a violent felony, gang-related crime or a marijuana conviction involving minors.
“My belief is that the council wants to be as open as possible to allow folks who have been in this (marijuana) industry, but maybe not legally, to be able to transition into the legal industry,” Schenirer said.
The Sacramento plan is more conservative than a permitting program approved in Oakland. That city’s “equity permit program,” described as reparations for marijuana prohibition policies, gives special permit consideration to Oakland residents incarcerated in the past 10 years for marijuana convictions in the city.