22 Bay Area Cities Attend CityNews Workshop on Cannabis Policy

CaliforniaCityNews hosted its second Municipal Cannabis Policy Workshop on July 31 in San Mateo for Northern California city officials. Dozens of city officials from across 22 cities in the Bay Area attended the unique workshop designed to help cities learn from experts -- and one another -- as they look to design successful cannabis policies.

The event, co-hosted by CaliforniaCityNews and CaliforniaMarijuanaPolicy, featured several notable guest speakers discussing a range of topics related to the booming cannabis industry. The event was sponsored by the Hawthorne Gardening Company.

Speakers included:

  • Brad Rowe from MuniServices/Avenu
  • South San Francisco Chief of Police Jeff Azzopardi
  • Sean Prestia of The Hawthorne Gardening Company
  • Berkeley Senior Planner Beth Greene

Rowe led the first panel discussing ways for cities to deal with the financial aspects of the marijuana industry. Some of the topics centered on tax rates, estimating revenue, and ways to attract businesses. 

Brad Rowe from MuniServices/Avenu expanded the financial overview to include Sample Tax Rates from other cities and quarterly returns from various California Counties, as well as lessons learned from other states.

Chief Azzopardi of the City of South San Francisco provided an update on public safety issues related to cannabis. Azzopardi is the 2019 President of the San Mateo County Police Chiefs and Sheriff Association, and discussed ongoing state legislation and how departments across the state are meeting new needs created by recreational cannabis legalization. 

"If your city is considering this, you need to form your 'team,' include fire, pollice, code enforcement, the city manager, and all the internal stakeholders," said Chief Azzopardi regarding cities moving forward with allowing cannabis businesses. "Form the team and hash it out -- not everyone will be comfortable with the same things. But if you come together you can get there and have a foundation that suits your community."

Sean Prestia of the Hawthorne Gardening Company gave an overview on odor mitigation for various cannabis businesses, including cultivation but also retail and cannabis lounges, and how cities can craft effective ordinances that eliminate potential nuisance complaints from neighbors of cannabis businesses. His presentation is available here.

Beth Greene of the City of Berkeley held a panel on the unintended challenges her city has faced as one of the leaders in cannabis legalization in the state. One aspect of which was equity when trying to decide the licensing process.

CCN previously held a workshop in Long Beach in May for Southern California cities.