City refines cannabis rules with Jan. 18 effective date

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City Hall

Hollister staff officials are working on regulations related to the recently passed medical cannabis ordinance in preparation for the law taking effect soon.

Council members passed a medical cannabis ordinance at their Dec. 19, and the new law goes into effect on Jan. 18. The ordinance lifts the city’s current ban on medical cannabis facilities within city limits. While the provisions outline what’s allowed, city officials must draft specific regulations yet.

According to City Attorney Brad Sullivan, there haven’t been any applications for medical cannabis facilities as of yet. This is because interested parties need to wait for specific regulations to be hammered out.

It’s expected that Special Counsel Pamela Epstein will bring a draft copy of regulations before city council members at their Jan. 17 meeting. Epstein previously worked with Sullivan and city staff to draft the approved medical cannabis ordinance.

Upcoming regulations include specific items like applications, operator’s permits and any requirements for use permits, according to Sullivan.

“The operator’s permit will come first and, once obtained, the use permit for the specific facility will follow,” Sullivan said. “This way the city can be assured of the backgrounds of the operators and key employees, and also gauge interest in the specific types of uses in the city.”

The draft copy received input from Sullivan himself, as well as City Manager Bill Avera, Police Chief David Westrick, Fire Chief Bob Martin Del Campo, Administrative Services Director Brett Miller, Community Services Director Mike Chambless and Development Services Director Bryan Swanson. The council may adopt, revise or direct regulations to be recirculated and brought back at a future meeting, Sullivan said.

Language in the ordinance caps the number of dispensaries at two facilities, but it’s unclear what the number of cultivation and manufacturing permits will be. In addition, the adopted ordinance addressed medical facilities, but not adult or recreational use allowed by Proposition 64.

Staff members are considering whether to adopt an urgency ordinance for adult use, Sullivan said.

“I am currently working with Ms. Epstein to draft an urgency ordinance banning all adult use cannabis production beyond the personal use cultivation provided for in Proposition 64, and further requiring persons cultivating personal use to register with the city,” Sullivan said. “It is thought that many indoor cultivation methods can provide an increased fire hazard, and it is necessary for the City fire department to be aware of the presence and location of these increased risks.”

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