Sacramento is not quite ready to increase the number of storefront cannabis dispensaries within city limits, despite efforts to expand opportunities in the marijuana industry for people of color.
At a committee meeting on Tuesday, City Council members agreed to shelve discussion of expanding the number of dispensaries for a year.
“Let’s see how the system is moving forward before we pull the Band-Aid or open the lid to more retail facilities,” City Council member Eric Guerra said at the meeting. He added that he was concerned new dispensaries “would probably end up back in my district,” an industrial part of the city’s east side that is already home to the most dispensaries, delivery services and related cannabis businesses.
Council members Jeff Harris, who represents East Sacramento, and Steven Hansen, of Midtown, also were lukewarm on making more permits available. And there were concerns that some cannabis storefronts are struggling economically as the industry works to be in compliance with new statewide regulations, including increased taxes on retail cannabis products.
There are currently only 30 permits for cannabis dispensaries in Sacramento, and no other city in the region allow for these types of marijuana clubs except for the city of Davis, which is home to five dispensaries.
The city says it had 70 delivery-only cannabis businesses in addition to the 30 storefront operations.
City staff had proposed increasing the number of storefront dispensaries by 30 percent over three years, or adding three new clubs a year.
Two other cannabis-related issues were also taken up at the committee on Tuesday.
The city will also explore making its cannabis training program, which it says is the first of its kind in the state, mandatory for all cannabis-dispensary employees.
The city is currently partnering with the Sacramento County education office to put on classes for workers. The four-hour courses focus on how to prevent young people for getting their hands on marijuana.
Sacramento is also considering legalizing businesses that want to use propane, butane and other “volatile” solvents to manufacture cannabis extracts and produce concentrated marijuana products such as oils and resins. Other cities, from West Sacramento and Davis to Oakland and Los Angeles, already issue permits for this method of cannabis manufacturing.
Sacramento’s fire marshal supports the licensing of these businesses and says the process can be safe with regulation and inspections.
Devlin suggested that very few businesses, no more than five, would be interested in pursuing permits to produce cannabis extracts.