Cannabis Dispensary Operator Permits

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

This edition of my community blog begins with an update on the status of cannabis dispensaries in Emeryville. On November 21st the council voted to award operator permits to two of the seven applicants who applied to operate a cannabis dispensary business here in Emeryville. As a reminder, voters approved Proposition 64 in November 2016, legalizing recreational cannabis use and permitting local governments to regulate cannabis sales. The voter-approved state law becomes effective January 1, 2018.

The City of Emeryville was proactive on the issue of cannabis regulation, approving our local Cannabis Ordinance in April 2017. State law allows cities to issue a variety of permits for activities that include cannabis research/development, manufacturing, and transportation/delivery, among others. Under Emeryville's framework, an unlimited number of permits may be issued for non-sales uses (businesses where a company only does product testing, research or other business that doesn't transact with the public). Even without caps for the number of permits the city might issue for these specific non-sales uses, each must still operate in zoned areas of the city where manufacturing, research and development is permitted. This map illustrates those permitted zones for non-retail businesses:

Cannabis Manufacturing Approved zones in the city where non-retail cannabis businesses are permitted.

Separate from those uses, the council decided earlier this year that it would consider issuance of an operator's permit for a regional-serving cannabis dispensary. Cannabis business owners who wished to operate a cannabis dispensary/retail store in the city were required to submit an application detailing a significant amount of information about their proposed business. You can view the application, scoring criteria and other information required of each applicant here. City staff conducted interviews with each applicant and they were scored based on the responses they provided both orally and in writing. The staff report to the city council summarizing the outcome of that comprehensive evaluation can be viewed here.

At the November 21st council meeting, cannabis business owners and residents turned out to voice their views on the applicants seeking an operator's permit to run a dispensary here in Emeryville. After hearing from staff and taking public testimony, the council opted to authorize two applicants for an operator's permit. The first applicant selected was Rochambeau/NuLeaf. They were the highest scoring applicant and have a long history of operating medicinal cannabis dispensaries in both California and Nevada. They intend to operate a more traditional retail store. The second applicant selected was East Bay Therapeutics, which scored third overall in the staff evaluation. Their operation contemplates a greater focus on delivery services with a smaller storefront that has a dedicated smoking lounge for recreational users, providing a safe space in the city for consumers to smoke.

The Council has structured our permitting process so that businesses receiving operator permits must be renewed annually. This ensures that we retain the leverage necessary to hold permitted businesses accountable to community standards. We look forward to partnering with both NuLeaf and East Bay Therapeutics to ensure that cannabis retail, consumption and delivery is professional, safe and community-oriented.

Separate from the operator's permit, dispensaries must also obtain a Conditional Use Permit, or "CUP." This is a permit that approves the location for the operation of the store. Just like the manufacturing zones (above), state law and local ordinance restrict where a dispensary may operate within the city limits. Although all applicants proposed sites for their business, receiving an operator's permit did not bind them to those proposed locations. Once the approved applicants determine a final, desired location for operation, they will apply to the Planning Commission for a CUP. The areas in orange on this map indicate where a retail dispensary may operate within the city:

Cannabis Sales.jpg

All permits become effective on January 1, 2018 when Proposition 64 takes effect. Residents will also be allowed to grow up to six plants at their home for personal use under Prop 64. If you wish to learn more about the basic requirements and restrictions for growing personal use plants in Emeryville, please consult Emeryville Municipal Code Section 9-5.2207.

Finally, the city reviewed the Smoking Pollution Control Ordinance to help protect smoke-free housing back on October 3rd. Council gave direction at that time to staff to come back in early 2018 with an updated draft ordinance for approval. The updated ordinance will apply to cannabis smoke in the same ways it applies to tobacco smoke.



Next month the city council will discuss several significant items. All resident and business stakeholders are invited to attend and provide input.

Fire Services - December 5th (6:30pm): Council will hold a study session reviewing the standards of fire/EMS coverage provided by the Alameda County Fire Department. Check THIS AGENDA midweek for links to all of the presentation information.

One-Way Car Share - December 5th (7:16pm): Council will discuss the possibility of an ordinance authorizing and regulating one-way car share operators within the city. The discussion is important because it includes authorizing one-way car share to park on residential streets. Both Berkeley and Oakland have authorized operation of one-way car shares, with certain restrictions. The full packet of information is located under Agenda Item 12.2 in THIS AGENDA.

Revenue Measures - December 19th (Time TBD): Council will discuss potential revenue generating measures for the 2018 ballot. The Budget & Governance Committee has worked with staff over the past several months to develop concepts for community polling. We anticipate receiving the results of those efforts at this meeting. This item will be published in the next agenda on December 8th.

Transit Projects - December 19th (Time TBD): Council will hold a study session to review existing transportation capital improvement projects and give staff guidance on projects that should receive prioritization for grant funding/applications. This item will be published in the next agenda on December 8th.


Last night I had the pleasure of meeting with many residents of Pacific Park Plaza. We had an excellent discussion about a variety of topics, including an in depth discussion of the Public Market project, as well as transportation impacts and improvements in the Christie Ave. neighborhood. Special thank you to PPP resident Pam Mendelsohn who turned what was originally planned as a small meeting for six of her neighbors into a full community gathering -- over 60 people attended the event and a lot of excellent ideas were shared. I am grateful to everyone who participated and I walked away with some good homework. PPP residents who participated have all received a follow-up email today that contains all the items the group requested. Thank you to Planning Director Charlie Bryant for helping me assemble this information for community members.

I also enjoyed hearing from attendees at the first of two community meetings on parking management in Emeryville at the ECCL on November 16th. Residents and small business owners had the chance to ask questions about parking regulations and enforcement options, as well as share their own ideas for community neighborhoods. Thanks to all who attended. You can PARTICIPATE IN THE CITY'S PARKING SURVEY HERE. Keep updated on the status of the EMERYVILLE PARKING MANAGEMENT PLAN HERE.

Parking Meeting Nov. 16th Parking Management Community Meeting at the ECCL



Please come celebrate the Holiday Season with your neighbors on Friday, December 1st. The city's annual Holiday Parade will kick off at 5:30pm from ECDC on 53rd Street and end at City Hall. There will be music, floats, a tree lighting, activities for the kids and some holiday treats as well!

Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday Season.