Calexico First City To Consider Cannabis Permits
By Mario Conde
The City of Calexico becomes the first city in the Imperial Valley to pass an ordinance regarding permits for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and distributing.
The Calexico City Council met on Wednesday, January 25, to discuss the implementation of the first reading of an ordinance that will open a regulatory process of cannabis within the city.
Proposition 64 was approved by voters on November 8th and legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 years or older, permitting smoking in a private home or at a business licensed for on-site marijuana consumption. Smoking was to remain illegal while driving a vehicle, anywhere smoking tobacco is, and in all public places. Up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana are legal to possess under this measure. However, possession on the grounds of a school, day care center, or youth center while children are present remains illegal. An individual is permitted to grow up to six plants within a private home as long as the area is locked and not visible from a public place.
“Council adoption of the Ordinance presented, its recitals, its findings in support of the following regulations are necessary and appropriate to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents and businesses of Calexico from the identified adverse impacts of cannabis cultivation, processing, dispensing, delivery, and distribution within the City limits.” City Manager Armando Villa told the council.
City Attorney Carlos Campos said the municipal code states that cannabis dispensaries, cultivation, cannabis manufactures, and delivery of cannabis are to be prohibited uses in all zoning districts in the city. The proposed changed would amend the ordinance to allow the regulation of cannabis that will require the approval of a conditional use permit.
Attorney Campos added that cultivation facilities would be required to have full compliance with all of the applicable restrictions and mandates set forth on the State and Federal law. They will also have to submit a security plan that can guarantee 24-hour surveillance and background check that will require a fingerprint-based criminal history records check conducted by the Calexico Police Department.
“The cannabis will have to be indoors so people that walked in front of the building will not know cannabis is being cultivating in the building,” Campos said.
Other requirements include that cannabis facilities shall have an electronic point of sale system that produces historical transactions data for review by the city of auditing purposes. Campos added that cannabis facilities shall provide sufficient odor absorbing ventilation and exhaust system so that odor generated inside the medical cannabis facility is not detected outside the medical cannabis facility, anywhere on adjacent property or public rights-of-way, on or about any exterior or interior common area walkways, hallways, breezeways, foyers, lobby areas, or any other areas available for common use by tenants or the visiting public, or within any other until located within the same buildings as the cannabis facility.
Campos said that zoning ordinances need to be amended by the Planning Commission that will state that all cultivation shall be done in the interior of enclosed structures and outdoor cultivation shall be prohibited.
Councilman Bill Hodge said that cannabis will be well regulated in Calexico and said the safety is there.
“I believe that there is nothing controversial about this issue, nothing dangerous, nothing to fear here, what this ordinance is going to do will allow the city to regulate and distribute to other coastal cities. As Calexico citizens, you will never see, smell, or touch the plant or even know that exist here.” Hodge stated. “We cannot miss out on this profitable opportunity and the tax that comes here will be very profitable and bring millions in revenue to Calexico.”
Mayor Armando “Mandy” Real said that the country is living in historic times and said that cannabis is a $5 billion dollar industry and this will help the local economy.
“Nobody likes what we are going through right now. We are cutting people’s pay and benefits and that hurts the individual employee but we are also hurting the other 39,000 citizens because we can’t provide full services,” Mayor Real said. “Being the first city in the county to allow it is very progressive and will help us a lot financially.”
The Council approved the amended ordinance by a vote of 4-0 with Councilwoman Maritza Hurtado absent from this meeting.