New Cannabis Controls Continue To Smolder

This week the Board of Supervisors considered final approval of proposed new comprehensive cannabis regulations, but ultimately voted to continue the matter for two weeks.  The Board’s consideration of the regulations has revisited a pervasive and ongoing balkanization on the Board, with the Board torn between individual district interests and the broader interests of the City as a whole.

The new regulations fall into two broad categories.  The first category comprises a new permitting and monitoring scheme of both medical and recreational cannabis activities.  The legislation creates and regulates a whole new industry of cannabis-related commercial activities, including cannabis cultivation, cannabis manufacturing, cannabis testing, cannabis distribution, and cannabis microbusiness, all constituting new, defined land uses.  In addition, the new Office of Cannabis replaces the Department of Health as the primary cannabis regulatory and permitting agency.

The second category consists of the various new planning and zoning regulations.  These regulations establish what kind of commercial cannabis activities will be allowed in particular zoning districts, as well as review and approval requirements at the Planning Commission.  These regulations are discussed in greater detail below.

One particular area where the legislation has made some progress, but still does not go far enough, is in the appeals process for cannabis permits.  Permits to operate and approved building permits for medical cannabis dispensaries are now appealed to the Board of Appeals.  This, however, can result in highly-charged public hearings often involving technical regulatory questions with which the Board is not familiar.

These technical issues are only going to become more complicated under the new regime.  While the legislation makes progress by creating an Office of Cannabis appeals hearing officer who will have expertise in the new cannabis regulations, the hearing officer only hears appeals of permit violations and revocations.  The hearing officer’s jurisdiction should be broadened to include any permit that may be appealed to the Board of Appeals.  This would streamline and narrow the issues on appeal to the Board.

Turning back to the new cannabis zoning regulations, the adopted controls include the following:

  • Medical cannabis sales and recreational cannabis sales would be combined as one new defined use known as “Cannabis Retail”. Cannabis Retail generally would be permitted where other retail is permitted.
  • Cannabis Retail would be permitted as an accessory use where the Office of Cannabis has issued a permit to the Cannabis Retail establishment to operate accessory to another activity on the same premises.
  • The Board is divided on whether to limit the proximity of Cannabis Retail to schools to 600 feet or 1000 feet, and whether to include daycare centers in the buffer zone.
  • The legislation establishes a land use process for the conversion of existing Medical Cannabis Dispensaries to Cannabis Retail establishments.

As stated above, the proposed controls are scheduled to return to the Board in two weeks.  We will continue to monitor the legislation and keep readers apprised.


Authored by Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP  Attorney, Thomas Tunny

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient.  Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein.  Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP is a full-service real estate law firm.  We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law. We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision, and condominium work.