Cannabis Regulations

Town of Mammoth Lakes Cannabis Regulatory Framework Update

Over the last several years, California voters, and the state legislature created a legal framework to enable the cannabis industry to move into a regulated commercial market. In response to these changes, Town staff have been working on updating the Town's cannabis regulations to allow additional uses, such as recreational cannabis retailers and manufacturers/cultivators. Under the current regulations, only medical marijuana cooperatives (maximum of 2 dispensaries) and medical marijuana cultivation is permitted (current regulations can be viewed HERE).

Staff has been engaged in the development of the updated cannabis regulatory framework for cannabis since November 2016 and have been actively engaging the public, stakeholders, and the decision-making bodies on the development of the regulations. Below is a summary of the various meetings, workshops, and public hearings that have occurred. 

Additional information related to the CA cannabis regulations can be viewed HERE.

Town Council Public Hearing - March 13, 2018
At this meeting, the Town Council voted 5-0 to adopt Urgency Ordinance 18-002, which approved Zoning Code Amendment 17-001, repealed and readopted Chapter 5.38 of the Municipal Code, and repealed the cannabis moratorium (Ordinance 17-09). The Town Council adopted the Zoning Code regulations with the following modification (the deleted text is in strike through and the amended text is in bold italics):
Section 17.52.085.D(3)(a) - Cannabis retail facilities shall not be located within two hundred and fifty (250) five hundred (500) feet of another cannabis retailer facility regardless of the adult-use or medicinal designation.

Project materials for the Town Council meeting are available at the following links:

Planning and Economic Development Commission Public Hearing - February 28, 2018
At this meeting, the Planning and Economic Development Commission (PEDC) voted 3-0, with two commissioners absent, to recommend approval to the Town Council of Zoning Code Amendment 17-001 (ZCA 17-001) for the cannabis regulations with the following modification (the deleted text is in strike through and the amended text is in bold italics):
Section 17.52.085.D(3)(a) - Cannabis retail facilities shall not be located within five hundred (500) two hundred and fifty (250) feet of another cannabis retailer facility regardless of the adult-use or medicinal designation. 

Project materials from the PEDC meeting are available at the following links:

Town Council Cannabis Tax Measure
The Town Council held a workshop on the proposed cannabis tax measure on February 7, 2018 and requested direction from the Town Council related to the cannabis tax ballot measure. The consensus from the Town Council was to propose a maximum tax rate for retail sales of 8% and a maximum tax rate for all other commercial cannabis activities of 4%. The meeting materials are available at the following links:

At a subsequent Town Council meeting on February 21, 2018, the Town Council approved resolutions (Resolution 18-09, Resolution 18-10, and Resolution 18-11) for placing the cannabis tax measure on the June 5, 2018 ballot. The recommended tax rates for commercial cannabis activities are as follows:
     - Retail Sales: Range of 1% - 8% with an initial tax rate of 4%
     - Cultivation, Manufacturing, and Distribution: Range of 1% - 4% with an initial tax rate of 2%
     - Testing: Range of 1% - 4% with an initial tax rate of 1%

The meeting materials are available at the following links:

Town Council Cannabis Updates / Workshops
As a condition of approval for the adoption of the cannabis moratorium, the Town Council requested monthly updates/workshops on the status of the amendments to the cannabis regulations. A summary of each update/workshop is below:

February 6, 2018 Cannabis Workshop
At this workshop, staff presented the full draft cannabis regulatory framework to the Town Council. The Town Council and the public were given an opportunity to weigh in on the regulations and provide comments and feedback and the draft regulations were amended as needed to reflect those comments and feedback. Meeting materials from this workshop are available at the following links:

January 17, 2018 Cannabis Workshop
At this workshop, staff posed a series of questions to the Town Council regarding various options for the cannabis regulations. A summary of the discussion topics is below:

  1. Buffer Areas
    The Town Council was presented three different options for buffers: Option A used only the 600 state required buffers from schools (K-12), day care centers, and youth centers; Option B used the 600 state required buffers and required a minimum of 500 feet between retail uses; and Option C used the 600 state required buffers, required a minimum of 500 feet between retail uses, and imposed a 600-foot buffer from public parks. The Town Council was supportive of proceeding with Option C. Buffers for all non-retail commercial cannabis activities (i.e., cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and testing) would be subject to the 600 state required buffers only. The maps showing each option are available HERE.
  2. Commercial Cannabis Uses
    The Town Council was supportive of moving forward with the following uses and zones where the uses would be permitted:
    - Downtown and Old Mammoth Road Commercial Zoning Districts: Allow cannabis retailers (adult-use and medicinal) and prohibit deliveries to consumers, cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and testing, except in limited amounts where the use is accessory to the retail use and adheres to specific operating requirements.
    - Mixed Lodging / Residential Commercial Zoning District: Prohibit all commercial cannabis activities.
    - Industrial Zoning District: Allow commercial cannabis cultivation, nonvolatile manufacturing, distribution, and testing and prohibit cannabis retailers. 
  3. Personal Cultivation Requirements
    The Town Council reviewed a matrix of the personal cultivation requirements that other jurisdictions had adopted and recommended imposing similar requirements. The consensus from the Town Council was to prohibit outdoor cultivation of cannabis.

Meeting materials from this workshop are available at the following links:

December 20, 2017 Cannabis Update
At this update, staff provided a summary of of the recent workshops they had attended and an update on the status of the State cannabis regulations. The meeting materials from this update are available at the following links:

November 15, 2017 Cannabis Update
At this update, staff provided a general summary of the steps they were taking towards the development of the updated cannabis regulatory framework. The video recording of the meeting is available HERE.

Cannabis Working Group
Based on the responses received at the PEDC workshop in August 2017, staff assembled a cannabis working group to discuss the Town's cannabis regulatory framework and provide recommendations on the cannabis regulations. The cannabis working group was comprised of: Town Planning, Finance and Police Department staff; Fire and Water District staff; Members of the Town Council and PEDC; and Mono County staff from Planning, Finance, and the Administrators office. Topics discussed at the working group meetings include: taxes, comparison of peer resorts, buffer areas, industrial zone uses, and personal cultivation. Additional information related to the working group discussions is available HERE

Cannabis Moratorium 
With the adoption of CA Proposition 64 (commonly referred to as the "Adult Use of Marijuana Act [AUMA]") and CA Senate Bill 94 (commonly referred to as the "Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act [MAUCRSA]"), there was the chance that the State could begin issuing licenses for commercial non-medicinal cannabis activities prior to the Town adopting appropriate land use, zoning, and public safety regulations. Based on this threat, it was determined that there was a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety, and welfare in the Town due to the negative land use and public safety impacts of such unregulated uses and that it was in the interest of the Town and its residents for the Town to undertake a review to consider zoning, land use, and public safety measures to prohibit and/or regulate commercial cannabis activities. To provide adequate time for staff to consider, review, and enact a comprehensive policy relating to commercial cannabis activities, the Town adopted a 45-day interim urgency ordinance (Ordinance No. 17-08) on September 6, 2017 prohibiting the following activities while the Town studied its options for the regulation of commercial cannabis activities:

  1. The operation of non-medicinal cannabis businesses in Mammoth Lakes;
  2. The operation of medicinal cannabis businesses, land uses, dispensaries, cooperatives, or facilities that do not have a valid use permit in Mammoth Lakes; and
  3. The issuance of any new use permit, or the amendment of any existing use permit for any purpose other than the expansion of storage space, for any medicinal cannabis businesses, land uses, dispensaries, cooperatives, or facilities in Mammoth Lakes.

The initial interim urgency ordinance prohibiting the aforementioned activities was subsequently extended on October 18, 2017 for an additional "10-months and 15-days" and will expire on September 6, 2018 (Ordinance 17-09). The Town Council intends to keep this urgency ordinance in effect only until the adoption of an ordinance that establishes a comprehensive cannabis regulatory framework. 

The meeting materials related to the cannabis moratorium are available at the following links:

Planning and Economic Development Commission Workshop - August 9, 2017
On August 9, 2017, the Planning and Economic Development Commission conducted a workshop to discuss the proposed cannabis regulations. At that workshop, the Commission was asked a series of questions in order to get feedback on the proposed regulations. The Commission provided feedback and recommended forming a working group to further analyze the regulations. The meeting materials from the workshop are available at the following links:

Public Workshop - April 26, 2017
On April 26, 2017, staff conducted a public workshop to discuss proposed cannabis regulations and to provide information on what is allowed under Proposition 64 ("the Adult Use of Marijuana Act"). Additionally, staff asked a series of questions to gain feedback from the public. The workshop presentation is available HERE.

A summary of the responses to the questions asked of the public is provided below:

  1. Should there be a local tax for marijuana sales?
    The attendees were generally supportive of implementing a local tax on retail sales and the suggested tax amount ranged from 5-10%. There was general support for a cultivation tax, but no amounts were suggested.
    The soonest a tax could be implemented would be the next general election in November 2018 for a general tax.
  2. Is the proposed number of four (4) adult-use retailers and two (2) medicinal retailers appropriate?
    The attendee responses were mixed with regards to the number of retailers and the responses varied from maintaining the current quota of the two (2) medicinal cannabis retailers to having no cap on the numbers and allowing the market to regulate itself.
  3. Should the number of cultivation/manufacturing facilities in the Industrial Park be limited?
    Similar to the responses for the appropriate number of retailers, the attendee responses related to cultivation facilities in the Industrial Park were mixed and ranged from having a cap on the number of facilities in order to maintain adequate industrial space for other industrial uses to having no cap since there is limited vacant space and/or landlords willing to rent to cannabis businesses and the market will regulate itself.
  4. Of the three buffer options, which is the most desirable?
    Three maps were put on the wall and the public was asked to place sticker dots on their choice. The three buffer options presented were: (1) maintain the existing 1,000-foot buffer from schools (K-12), parks, and libraries for the commercial zones and the State required 600-foot buffer from schools (K-12), day care centers and child care centers; (2) use a 600-foot buffer from parks and libraries for the commercial zones and the State required 600-foot buffer from schools (K-12), day care centers, and child care centers; or (3) use only the State required 600-foot buffer from schools (K-12), day care centers, and child care centers. Of the three buffer options, there was unanimous support from the attendees for option 3 (see attachment 3 for the map options and sticker votes).