California Cannabis Countdown: City of Antioch (Hearing Today!)

California has 58 counties and 482 incorporated cities across the state, each with the option to create its own rules or ban marijuana altogether. In this California Cannabis Countdown series, we cover who is banning cannabis, who is embracing cannabis (and how), and everyone in between.  For each city and county, we’ll discuss its location, history with cannabis, current law, and proposed law to give you a clearer picture of where to locate your California cannabis business, how to keep it legal, and what you will and won’t be allowed to do.

Our last California Cannabis Countdown post was on the City of San Jose, and before that the City of Cotati, the City of San Luis Obispo, the City of Redding, the City of San Rafael, the City of Hayward, Alameda County, OaklandSan FranciscoSonoma County, the City of Davis, the City of Santa RosaCounty and City of San BernardinoMarin CountyNevada County, the City of Lynwood, the City of CoachellaLos Angeles County, the City of Los Angeles, the City of Desert Hot SpringsSonoma County, the City of Sacramento, the City of BerkeleyCalaveras CountyMonterey County and the City of Emeryville.

Today’s post is on the City of Antioch.

Welcome to the California Cannabis Countdown.

LocationAntioch is the second largest city in Contra Costa County and its location on the banks of the San Joaquin River links it with the San Francisco/East Bay region, Sacramento, and the Central Valley. Although Antioch is not home to any of the major tech companies found throughout the Bay Area (Kaiser Permanente is the City’s largest employer), its low cost of living (for Northern California) and new public transportation options will likely attract new residents and businesses.

History with Cannabis: When it comes to cannabis, Antioch lags far behind some of its progressive Bay Area neighbors. While Oakland, San Francisco, Richmond, and Berkeley (just to name a few) are continuously working on their cannabis ordinances and licensing procedures, Antioch’s been busy extending moratoriums. The City Council passed its first moratorium on medical marijuana facilities back on April 26, 2011. The City then extended the moratorium on May 24, 2011, and passed an ordinance permanently barring medical marijuana facilities on October 22, 2013. Antioch did have an exception allowing for limited medical cultivation but when the City amended their cannabis ordinance on January 20, 2016, they added cultivation to the prohibited list of cannabis activities. When the Adult-Use of Marijuana Act (“AUMA”) made it onto the California ballot in 2016, Antioch followed its normal course of action: It passed multiple moratoriums prohibiting adult-use cannabis activities. However, there’s proof out there that Antioch is starting to come around on its view of cannabis. Much like the progress we’re beginning to see on the federal level with pro-cannabis measures, California jurisdictions that used to have bans in place are now deciding to regulate (and tax) commercial cannabis activities. You can now add Antioch to that list (hopefully).

Proposed Cannabis Laws: On May 2, 2018, Antioch’s Planning Commission held a public hearing and recommended that the City Council amend the City’s Municipal Code to establish a cannabis business zoning overlay district for commercial cannabis activities. The amended ordinance passed its first City Council reading on May 22, 2018, and will hopefully be adopted later this evening. Here are some of the ordinance’s highlights:

  • Would allow commercial cannabis activities in the eastern waterfront industrial area between the San Joaquin River and east 18th street, as well as along the business park area around Verne Roberts Circle;
  • Establishes and defines a cannabis business as “a person, partnership, corporation, company, association, collective, or cooperative which engages in commercial cannabis use(s)”;
  • Establishes and defines cannabis retail as “a cannabis business that distributes, dispenses, stores, exchanges, packages, re-packages, labels, sells, makes available, transmits, or gives away cannabis or cannabis products for either medical or recreational use and is operated in accordance with state and local law and regulations”;
  • Prohibits cannabis businesses with 600 feet of a school, residential area, or public park; and
  • Allows cannabis uses upon approval of a Use Permit from the City Council and the recommendation of the Planning Commission.

It’s also important to note that as of right now Antioch is considering licensing all seed to sale license types, so interested cannabis entrepreneurs need to keep communicating with the City Council to keep all those cannabis activities available. The proposed ordinance does not specify the general requirements and operating procedures for obtaining a cannabis use permit. That issue will be addressed by local regulators in the future but in order to get to that point, the City Council needs to adopt the amended ordinance today! Let’s hope that Antioch takes a step in the right direction.

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Author: Habib Bentaleb