Public Comment Statement on Cannabis Task Force
City Council Meeting, March 16, 2021
Good evening Mr. Mayor and City Council:
At the October 20, 2020 Council meeting an ordinance was introduced to set the cannabis tax rates for potential retail cannabis businesses. At that same meeting, you provided direction to City staff to initiate a review of the City’s existing cannabis regulations and explore options for allowing new or additional types of cannabis businesses in Paso Robles. You appointed Councilmembers Hamon and Garcia as part of the formation of a community Task Force to engage with this review and identified other community interests to be part of this Task Force including the Chamber of Commerce.
During the November 3, 2020 Council meeting, the ordinance setting cannabis business tax rates was approved and Council gave direction to delay implementing the tax 90 days from the date of adoption to provide adequate time to ensure that all businesses that were delivering cannabis in the City could be taxed.
During that same meeting City staff noted they were working on the formation of the ad hoc committee with Councilmembers Hamon and Garcia and would return to the Council at a future date for more detailed community discussion and direction.
We are disappointed that today is March 16, 2021 and to date there has not been any effort by the City to convene a community Task Force as outlined at your October 20th meeting to consider regulations for potential cannabis businesses. As the organization representing the interests of our business community, we believe it is vital the City actively engage in making a final determination as to what may or may not be permitted in relation to cannabis business in Paso Robles. Additionally, should such business be permitted, establishing clearly defined criteria, guidelines and regulations for potential cannabis businesses to follow is imperative. Without regulations and policies in place, it is difficult to maintain oversight of, and/or manage the potential permitting of the cannabis retail industry in Paso Robles.
There was also a timing issue related to statewide CEQA exemption for cannabis business permits that expires June 30, 2021. We recognize it is now difficult for the City to meet this deadline for passing ordinances that establish a cannabis permitting processes; however, we do believe there is still a need to convene a community-based Task Force to research and define cannabis business regulations. We are offering our capacity to serve as convener for this Task Force and invite the City to engage with our efforts to address the issue of regulating cannabis business in Paso Robles.
While the issue of the cannabis industry may appear to be a cultural one, we would offer that this is a business issue and opportunity to collaborate in which the City should consider engagement. With the county going through its process to consider where to permit cannabis cultivating and retail outlets, it’s important for the City’s regulations to be clearly defined and in place to avoid confusion and missed opportunities.
President/CEO, Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce