Gilroy keeps out cannabis sales

Marijuana

Unlike what’s going on in neighboring Hollister, the green dreams of pot entrepreneurs in Gilroy are drying up.

The city has already legislated against medical marijuana dispensaries and will take action in the next few weeks to ban recreational growing and sales of cannabis.

“We have to do something before the end of the year or you fall into state licensing requirements,” said city planner Sue O’Strander. “Our intent is to stay in line with what Gilroy expects.”

Gilroy has legislated against medicinal marijuana and will make amendments to the city code regarding personal use of marijuana and the planning department has recommended restricting commercial sales.

Hollister, in contrast, has legalized commercial cannabis sales and cultivation.

Since 2010 the Gilroy City Code has imposed a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries and in 2016 the city amended the code to prohibit medical marijuana cultivation, delivery, and commercial marijuana activity within the city.

This statute was in part overridden last November in California when 56 percent of voters approved Proposition 64, The Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Under the act, for adults aged 21 years and older, the use of marijuana will be legal in January. The act also allows for the growing of up to six marijuana plants on private property for personal use, which supersedes the city’s code.

The recommendation from city staff is to make sure local ordinances comply with state law allowing personal cultivation, but prohibit the outdoor cultivation of marijuana.

Gilroy is bucking a trend that is bringing big bucks into other states. According to Marketwatch.com, Colorado pulled in over $200 million in tax revenue from $1.3 billion in marijuana sales. California also expects substantial tax revenue. Along with legalization, the state is charging a 15 percent excise tax on recreational marijuana and expects to bring in $1 billion in tax revenue according to Forbes.com.

Earlier in October, the Hollister City Council approved Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine to take one of two approved medical marijuana dispensary sites. Hollister is cautiously expanding legal marijuana businesses, and expects to welcome cannabis manufacturing businesses that make edible and concentrated marijuana.

With the revenues, the city is expected to hire a cannabis affairs officer, an additional police officer and sergeant, an IT technician, an account technician and an additional deputy fire marshal. While the initial costs of the hires is expected to cost around $824,000.

“Those costs are offset, at least right now,” said Hollister City Manager Bill Avera in an interview with the Free Lance on Oct. 6. “The revenues you’ll be generating from cultivation alone that the council has already approved is about $1.161 million. That doesn’t count any of the manufacturing sales and dispensary sales.”

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