Chico to take another look at cannabis law

CHICO — Upon returning to its cannabis business ordinance Tuesday, the Chico City Council made the decision to ask City Attorney Vince Ewing to analyze what is currently in place and return with some new ideas.

The item was brought forward by Mayor Andrew Coolidge as a way to look beyond dispensaries toward manufacturing and production.

There are currently 24 proposed cannabis dispensaries going forward in the application process in Chico.

Ewing suggested to the council that it directs staff to look at all the options for potentially expanding the ordinance if desired.

Residents spoke in favor of potentially expanding the ordinance during the public comment period. David Petersen explained the economic side of how expansion could help bring revenue to the city.

“Dispensaries will capture the revenue of funds that are being spent by local people that are buying these retail products in and around the city,” Petersen said. “But the manufacturing and distribution will capture some revenue from sales that are made to other licensed businesses throughout the whole entire state of California so it’s important to remember the commodity flow of the retail product.”

Curtis Bartle, who owns a dispensary in Lassen County, said that it was important to consider the discussed aspects of the industry as it has been struggling in distribution and logistics. He added that while he is in Lassen County, the closest distribution center is in Sacramento.

Bartle said his business spends an average of $150,000 on products to sell per month, his county is missing out on some potential revenue by not having its own distribution center.

“Doing some simple math, it’s really easy to draw a conclusion that if the intent of the City Council is to capture additional revenue, it would be wise to include as many parts of the distribution chain as possible inside the city limits,” Bartle said. “If for nothing else then to supply the businesses that are going to be stationed locally and be able to capture that tax revenue from those businesses.”

When Coolidge first directed staff, Councilor Alex Brown requested a more specific direction.

“If it were up to me, I would ask to have the city attorney and staff look at manufacturing, testing, distribution and non-storefront retail as its written in our ordinance and come back with thoughts about continuing that process or if there are other options this council would like to explore.”

Coolidge backed the proposed direction but Councilor Sean Morgan did not.

“I am not excited about Chico becoming the cannabis central anything for Northern California, however, there is money to be generated there and if we don’t make it, someone else is going to,” Morgan said. “I’m not interested in opening X amount of manufacturers or X amount of distributors. I would be open to something but as we’re giving direction it needs to be limited as retail shops were.”

Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds asked Ewing for a full analysis of what is possible and then return for the council to make the decisions from there.

Councilor Mike O’Brien said that while he supports an analysis of the city’s ordinance, he wanted to be cautious in going beyond dispensaries.

“I really think we need to figure out this dispensary thing first,” O’Brien said. “This is a new enterprise. We need to walk before we can run in my opinion. Let’s get dispensaries right first and then we can look at other things.”

The Chico City Council mostly meets at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month at 421 Main St. Meetings are free and open to the public.

© 2022 KQPT-FM. Internet Development by Frankly Media.