Costa Mesa will allow the city’s first cannabis stores in commercial areas across the city, with limited proximity of stores to places for children such as schools and playgrounds, and the city will impose a 7% tax on products sold there .
The removal requirement, tax, and other details are set out in new rules approved by the city council on April 20th. The rules will be negotiated at second reading in May and will come into force 30 days later.
Until now, Santa Ana was the only Orange County town that allowed in-store cannabis sales, although Costa Mesa and a few others allowed manufacturing, distribution, and other aspects of the business, and Stanton has approved four companies to open retail stores. In November, Costa Mesa voters approved a measure that paved the way for regulations and a tax on retail sales and deliveries.
Mayor John Stephens said the city had already received a number of inquiries from budding entrepreneurs; The approval process is expected to open in the summer.
In addition to setting city tax at 7% (cannabis purchases are subject to a 15% state excise tax plus additional state and local sales taxes), the council voted to require a buffer of at least 1,000 feet between cannabis stores and “sensitive uses” include schools, playgrounds, daycare and homeless shelters, as well as a 600-foot separation from youth centers like a Boys & Girls Club, which is required by state law.
Not everyone is happy with the new rules. The council meeting raised issues such as the impact of taxes on medical cannabis users, concerns that the distance between shops is too big or not big enough, and that the city has not done enough about illegal cannabis shops. (Stephens said one of the goals of licensing and regulating the business is to get rid of the black market business.)
In a phone interview, resident Jim Peters said he voted for the measure to regulate cannabis sales because he supported taxation, but he didn’t think the language used made it clear that they could be in commercial zones across the city. Costa Mesa restricts other types of cannabis businesses to industrial areas.
“As a parent with young children, it is worrying for me to know that these stores can now be anywhere in town,” said Peters. Based on shops he saw in other cities, he said, “It’s not a friendly environment. There will be a higher crime. “
Costa Mesa requires shops to have a security plan and only allow access to people aged 21 and over. Stephens said the city has a myriad of rules about what businesses can look like and that they can’t advertise outside with sandwich boards or shield swirls. Consumption of the product on site is prohibited.
“People will be happy with the result,” he said. “If I hadn’t thought that, I wouldn’t.”