Following state voters legalizing recreational marijuana, South San Francisco officials are slated to examine establishing local regulations on sale and cultivation of the drug.
The South San Francisco City Council will host a study session Wednesday, Jan. 11, regarding a variety of potential new restrictions designed to rein in the budding industry.
The variety of initiatives to be considered include prohibiting smoking pot in public, disallowing commercial sales, restricting outdoor grows and requiring permits or other security oversights for personal use, according to a city report.
Mayor Pradeep Gupta said he believes the issue is ripe for discussion, as he has identified a variety of questions regarding how legalization may take hold in South San Francisco.
“I will go into this study session with an open mind with regards to how it will be affecting our kids, our businesses and our community,” he said.
Though no action is scheduled during the upcoming meeting, officials should look to move quickly if they intend to establish new restrictions as planting season for outdoor grows should begin in the spring, according to the report.
Officials may also opt to adopt a temporary moratorium immediately butting out all marijuana sales, cultivation and processing, along with barring the legal minimum of growing six indoor plants for personal use, to grant more time for a deeper examination of the issue, according the report.
In the months leading up to 57 percent of California voters passing Proposition 64 to allow marijuana use for adults 21 and older, local cities such as San Bruno, Foster City, Burlingame and San Carlos took action to establish their own set of regulations on the drug. County officials are also exploring a regional approach to potentially craft a template for marijuana rules, which cities within the county could adopt in an effort to avoid a patchwork of regulations.
Though proposals to establish local regulations have spread across the Peninsula, Gupta acknowledged the issue could have an enhanced resonance in South San Francisco due to the city’s hub of life sciences companies potentially interested in capitalizing on the drug.
The legalization approval rate among South San Francisco voters matched the state level, as about 13,850 of the 24,300 residents who participated the fall election supported the initiative, according to the report. The proposition passed in each precinct across the city, except a small area near Alta Loma Middle School where it failed by a vote of 91 to 87.
Different cities across California have adopted a wide variety of approaches to regulating marijuana, according to the report, as some have embraced the opportunity to capitalize on the drug while others have looked to ratchet down on its proliferation.
“Some cities choose to allow only non-dispensary businesses, such as storage or distribution facilities,” according to the report. “Others allow a limited amount of dispensaries. While others still, particularly cities with a large amount of industrial properties, are focusing on regulations to attract testing, manufacturing and/or indoor and mixed-light cultivation businesses.”
Beginning in 2018, a 15 percent state tax on marijuana sales will be levied and cities are granted the opportunity to add an additional tax should local voters support the initiative. Under state laws, medical marijuana sales can be exempted from some of the tax laws.
Analysts project the legal marijuana industry could generate up to $1 billion annually for the state, according to the report, and San Mateo County officials anticipate such businesses could create $100 million in additional revenue locally.
If South San Francisco were to establish a business license tax on companies profiting from marijuana sales, approximately $1.7 million could be taken in, according to the report.
Regarding whether a tax on such businesses may be a fit for South San Francisco, Gupta said the issue is not as simple as examining the city’s opportunity to turn a profit.
“I don’t look at the revenue in isolation,” he said. “I look at this question in terms of what we are compromising to get the revenue, and so far I don’t have the complete answer.”
In all, as cities across California prepare for an anticipated uptick in interest over marijuana, Gupta said he looked forward to weighing the variety of local perspectives regarding potential regulations.
“I think we’ll have a discussion going on for some time because I would like to hear how our residents feel on the issue as well,” he said.
In other business at the meeting, the council is set to consider approving a proposal to construct a new seven-story hotel and additional recreational facilities in the Genesis project near Highway 101. The hotel, if approved, would add a third tower to the large, modern development formerly known as Centennial Towers at the foot of San Bruno Mountain.
The South San Francisco City Council meets 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11, in the Municipal Services Building, 33 Arroyo Drive.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105