Recent research suggests that cannabis could be as effective a pain reliever and even help curb the opioid addiction crisis. Chico has been on board with new legislation to decriminalize marijuana, but is waiting for more research before taking action.
The city attorney has been tasked with reviewing present regulations.
When the Chico City Council returned to its cannabis business legislation on Tuesday, it decided to ask City Attorney Vince Ewing to review what is presently in place and return with some fresh suggestions.
Mayor Andrew Coolidge proposed the item as a method to move beyond dispensaries and into manufacturing and production.
In Chico, there are presently 24 planned cannabis shops in the application process.
Ewing advised the council to ask staff to investigate all alternatives for possibly increasing the ordinance if it is requested.
During the public comment process, many came out in support of possibly extending the law. The economic aspect of how expansion may assist the city bring in income was discussed by David Petersen.
“Dispensaries will gather the income from monies spent by locals who purchase these retail items in and around the city,” Petersen said.
“However, money from sales to other licensed companies across the state of California will be captured by production and distribution, therefore it’s crucial to understand the commodity flow of the retail goods.”
Curtis Bartle, the owner of a dispensary in Lassen County, said it was critical to address the industry’s controversial issues since it has been suffering with distribution and logistics. While he is in Lassen County, the nearest distribution hub is in Sacramento, he noted.
According to Bartle, his company spends an average of $150,000 a month on things to sell, therefore his county is losing out on some income opportunities by not having its own distribution center.
“It’s pretty straightforward to make the conclusion that if the City Council’s objective is to collect more income, it would be prudent to incorporate as many portions of the distribution chain as possible inside the city borders,” Bartle said.
“If nothing else, to supply the firms that will be stationed here and to be able to receive the tax income generated by those enterprises.”
Councilor Alex Brown wanted a more explicit directive from Coolidge when he initially ordered personnel.
“If it were up to me, I’d urge the city attorney and staff to review production, testing, distribution, and non-storefront retail as outlined in our ordinance and report back on whether they think the process should be continued or if there are other choices this council should consider.”
Coolidge supported the plan, while Councilor Sean Morgan did not.
“I’m not happy about Chico being the cannabis capital of Northern California,” Morgan said. “However, there is money to be made there, and if we don’t make it, someone else will.”
“I’m not interested in establishing a certain number of manufacturers or distributors.” I’d be open to things, but since we’re providing guidance, it has to be restricted, much like retail businesses.”
Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds urged Ewing to do a thorough review of the options before returning to the council to make the final selections.
While Councilor Mike O’Brien favors an examination of the city’s policy, he cautioned against expanding beyond dispensaries.
“I believe we need to work out the dispensary first,” O’Brien added.
“This is a brand-new company. In my perspective, we must first walk before we can run. Let’s start with dispensaries, and then we’ll look at other options.”
The Chico City Council meets at 421 Main St. on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 6 p.m. Meetings are open to the public and are free.