State releases proposed regulations

Commercial cannabis activity permits will be on the agenda of the Riverside County Planning Commission’s July 18 meeting.

The commission discussed the proposed ordinance in June and requested that its staff review several questions, and return with a report and possible changes.

The principal issue that captured the commission’s attention was whether cannabis cultivation should be permitted in some land-use zones, in which the draft ordinance prohibited it. The three zones were re-evaluated as the Residential Agriculture (R-A), the Rural Residential (R-R), and the Controlled Development (W-2) zones.

The number of parcels less than 3 acres in these zones ranges from 40 percent in W-2 to 66 percent in R-A. The number of parcels greater than 5 acres is well less than half in all three zones.

The planning staff recommended against any outdoor cultivation in these zones or elsewhere in the county. It also recommended against permitting any form of indoor cultivation here.

However, if the Planning Commission favored permitting some form of indoor cultivation in these zones, the staff offered several recommendations, such as large, minimum-lot sizes and greater setbacks.

For example, the staff recommended prohibiting commercial cultivation on any lots less than 5 acres; and depending upon the type of cultivation, larger minimum parcel sizes.

In response to the question about on-site consumption, such as cannabis lounges, the staff recommended further research and analysis before offering a recommendation.

With respect to proximity to sensitive activities, such as schools, day care, parks and youth centers, the staff recommended increasing the distance between these activities and permitted cannabis activities to 1,000 feet from 600 feet.

However, it did make clear that construction on these sensitive activity areas within 1,000 feet of an already permitted commercial cannabis activity would not result in revocation of the permit.

The staff noted that Planning Commission approval of a draft ordinance was not the final step. The Board of Supervisors must still approve any ordinance. And when implemented, each individual permit must be consistent with the land-use classification for that parcel.

Recent state action may complicate the Planning Commission’s review this week. On Friday, July 13, the state agencies regulating cannabis licensing issued new permanent regulations, which have a 45-day review period. This may affect the timing of moving the proposed ordinance to the board. The commission may ask staff to compare the proposed ordinance with the state’s proposed regulations.

For example, the proposed regulations “add a provision that allows retailers to deliver to any jurisdiction within California.” This would appear to permit retailers in Riverside County cities to deliver cannabis to areas within the unincorporated areas of the county.