Cannabis industry coming to Alameda?

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL
Alameda is surrounded now by municipalities in Oakland and San Leandro that are taking full advantage of the highly-profitable cannabis industry in their cities, not to mention the potential windfall of new tax revenues that may follow.

Based on a council referral to be discussed next week, Alameda may be laying the groundwork, albeit belatedly, for cannabis businesses from dispensaries to cultivation sites to set up shop on the island. Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer will propose Tuesday night for the City Council to direct staff to begin studying the issue.

The potential arrival of cannabis to Alameda has percolated over the past year as other city’s began adjusting to legalization and a spate of new statewide regulations that begin in earnest in 2018. Several East Bay cities took the step last November to ask voters to approving mechanisms to tax cannabis-related businesses. Alameda, however, did not.

Last year, Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie said the city was at risk of losing precious tax revenues by allowing Oakland and San Leandro’s cannabis industries to corner the local market. The City Council signaled agreement when it included the issue as part of its legislative priorities for this year.

A timetable set by the council earlier this year called for a city staff report on cannabis in the fall, but Spencer’s referral appears to be speeding up the process.

One impetus for the referral is advocacy recently by a group of Alameda business people with expertise in various sectors of the cannabis industry. The Alameda Island Cannabis Community has been lobbying city officials and others in the local business community in recent months. They are expected to address the Alameda City Council at Tuesday night’s meeting.

According to a source, the group grabbed the mayor’s ear, in part, due to a desire to put the nascent industry in the hands of cannabis business owners who have lived in Alameda for at least the last three years. The pitch also includes presumably employing locals.

Spencer’s referral, similar to other municipalities, would study zoning restrictions, such keeping the cannabis businesses a certain number of feet away from schools and parks. It also seeks to potentially limit the number of dispensaries or other cannabis businesses in the city.

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