Editor’s note: The Riverside County Planning Commission’s hearing on the proposed cannabis ordinance was 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 20. This story discusses the language in the proposed ordinance. Next week, the Town Crier will report on the results of the hearing.
The Riverside County Planning Commission held a public hearing on a proposed ordinance regulating cannabis activities in Riverside County. The ordinance specifies zones for retail, distribution, transportation and testing, but specifically prohibits the commercial outdoor cultivation of cannabis. No cannabis activities will be allowed within residential zones, according to the draft ordinance.
While not part of the proposed ordinance to regulate cannabis businesses, the background paper states that the board will not set an effective date before residents have a chance to vote on a potential taxing scheme for commercial cannabis activities, which may be added to the November ballot.
“It is anticipated that no commercial cannabis uses would be permitted by the county until such time as a cannabis tax ballot measure has been approved by county voters, or other means to finance required enforcement activities related to commercial cannabis activities has been adopted by the board,” according to the staff report.
State law allows individuals to grow up to six plants within their residence and the county cannot contravene the state law. While cannabis nurseries would be permitted in certain locations, actual farms or groves would not be permitted.
The proposed regulation states that the county will hold a public hearing whenever it is considering issuing a permit for the conditional use of cannabis.
The draft ordinance would also prohibit mobile cannabis retailers anywhere within the unincorporated area of Riverside County. All authorized activities will require land-use permits and state licenses.
Part of the permitting process will be a development agreement between the county and the operator. This will set the conditions under which the business may operate and any fees for the county. This process may obviate the need for a vote on cannabis taxes.
The operating hours of any activity will be limited to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Security, including cameras, must be available at all the sites. And all commercial cannabis activities must have a “will serve” letter from the local water district.
Indoor cultivation of cannabis will be permitted in certain commercial, agricultural and manufacturing zones. Conditions include setback distances and lot sizes.
Retailers may not be with 600 feet of schools, childcare facilities and parks, and must be 1,000 feet from any other cannabis retailer.
The proposal also has qualifications for the issuance of a permit. The county would not grant a permit to convicted felons.
Several local residents have commented on the idea of regulating cannabis in Riverside County. The comments have fallen on both sides of regulation. Some residents are opposed and concerned about the lack of adequate law enforcement. Some residents favor its regulation, especially for medical purposes.
Some expressed concern about the number of retailers who might be allowed in Idyllwild, but felt the proximity was preferable to driving off the Hill.