Chamber President and CEO, Joanne Webster testified at the City Council Meeting, Monday, December 4 encouraging council members to adopt a medical cannabis policy and suggested the following additions to the staff report; allow medical delivery services with no limits on the number of licenses; include local preference awards and dedicate a portion of any revenues collected toward substance abuse education for youth.
Read full letter below:
The City of San Rafael has always been the leading jurisdiction in Marin. You have been a leader in Climate Change by adopting the first climate action plan, you were a leader in adopting the first ADU ordinance, and you were a leader in addressing homelessness in Marin by supporting and funding Marin’s first HOT program and hiring a homeless planning and outreach director. Now, it is your time to lead again by adopting a medical cannabis policy in San Rafael.
The Chamber would like to thank the medical cannabis (MC) sub-committee for their direction to staff to recommend discreet, low impact uses and to minimize the public interface. After reviewing the staff report on medical cannabis, the Chamber is asking City Council to consider accepting these recommendations of allowing for a limited number of merit-based licenses for marijuana infused products and testing laboratories. These uses meet the criteria identified by the MC sub-committee, create new jobs, and promote a newly diversified industrial economy that is about to flourish. These commercial manufacturing sites and testing labs are safe, no product is stored on site, the infused products have no odor and the site is closed to the public. It poses no danger to the community and can be restricted to areas away from schools, youth centers and allowed in properly zoned industrial areas only. However, the Chamber understands the perceived concern this may have on parents of school aged children, so we highly recommend that a portion of any revenues generated be used solely for the purpose of educating youth about the negative impact of substance abuse.
We respectfully ask that the pilot program you create that limits the number of licenses is transparent and fair and gives local preference awards as part of the application process and the program is revisited after one year to gauge success. We also recommend that staff continue to gather more information on nonmedical adult-use commercial activities as the State’s regulatory framework is reviewed and fully understood.
Relative to the limited number of delivery services proposed by staff, the Chamber recommends Council consider no limits. Just like Stitch Fix, Blue Apron or Graze; which are online services where millions of people get their clothes, their dinner and their snacks delivered, medical cannabis delivery service is going to greatly expand. By placing a limit on the number of delivery companies located in San Rafael, you run the risk of creating a monopoly; driving businesses out of the city which is not good for the economy. Cannabis delivery services already exist in San Rafael now with no problems. However, the demand will continue to grow and companies will continue to service and deliver to San Rafael and Marin but you will not recoup any benefits if the company is located outside city limits. Other Bay Area cities lifted their ban on limiting medical cannabis delivery services after a pilot because they were struggling with enforcing a large number of unlicensed services trying to meet the demand. Legal and licensed delivery service provides a safe path to legitimate employment, requires patients to sign and adopt terms of agreement and follow rules associated with the service. New technology also provides safe access to medical cannabis with no disruption to our community. The Chamber suggests rather than creating a limiting, unfair system, let the market, via the application process, determine the number of quality delivery service companies that are needed to meet the demand in San Rafael and thrive.
The Council voted 5-0 to adopt an urgency ordinance.
The item will return to the City Council in early 2018 to determine the actual number of licenses they will permit and review a proposed application process.