Cannabis industry coming to Alameda?

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.

9 thoughts on “Cannabis industry coming to Alameda?

  1. I get it that you are for marijuana. Fine. But it is also clear that you are for tipping the scales in your own favor and trying to keep out potential competitors. Why does it matter that you are from a “strong labor family”? Does that make your proposal better? “We aren't some cover for a monopoly, or trying to have the government control all”. Really? Then why are you trying to impose a local residency restriction? And since you are so committed to hiring locals and paying such good wages, are you going to ask that a special higher minimum wage apply to this business?

    I guess if we like the idea of our local government acting like a bunch of commissars that can hand out the goodies to their friends, then giving more points to “locals” when it comes time to issuing licenses would be a great idea. And then, in turn, marijuana money makes it back into the political system by way of marijuana money campaign contributions.

    I'm not crazy about pot dispensaries in my town, but I WOULD MUCH RATHER NOT HAVE A SYSTEM SET UP TO RESTRICT COMPETITION, CREATE MONOPOLIES, AND CREATE MARIJUANA KING$ in Alameda handing out Marijuana political $$

    On the other hand, since our city council is setting the price for apartment rents, maybe they can also grant marijuana monopolies to “responsible” “locals” but also put severe price controls on it so that all the people who need the marijuana for medical purposes can get it at reasonable prices.


  2. When did “the people” “speak” about “Local resident participation is a good idea as those business owners will have a stake in the community that goes beyond a simple profit motive,” and what in the world is that supposed to mean other than you want less competition for your business? Any business has to follow the law. Why is a “local” business better or worse at following the law?


  3. Hi,

    I'm the Founder of Alameda Island Cannabis Community, Sharon Golden. I come from a strong labor family, I have lived in Alameda for twenty years, and I have been apart of the cannabis industry for the past twelve years — Cannabis has been my career, and I have worked at companies doing everything in the process from seed, to sale, to policy.

    I agree with Steven when he says that this has happened “albeit belatedly.” Did you know that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) was approved by Alameda voters by 68.8% (and that we have a 80% voter turnout on the island)?

    AICC's movement is deeply rooted in our residency, and we are comprised of 375 patients and adult users, primarily in the 30-60 age range, all who live here on the Island. Our mission is driven by our commitment to transparency, both for AICC and those businesses that will open due to our advocacy.

    We plan on having a town hall that has both educators, medical professionals and others speaking on the panel in late July or early September to help dispel the ever present narrative that cannabis legalization contributes to adolescent abuse, or is similar to addictive narcotics. So, please, keep your eye out for that on our page as well.

    I understand the ins and outs of this industry, and when I learned of the chance of cannabis businesses coming into my back yard in Alameda, I wanted to be sure that we have upstanding members coming to our community. I have worked for great employers, not so great employers, and I want to be sure that if Alameda does this, it doesn't leave gaping holes in the ordinance that would impact our community. I want to make sure that the people who move in (who undoubtably will be making multi-millions) are upstanding members of our community.

    We are advocating for residency because, with a capped number of permits, locals are currently getting pushed out of this industry in their home towns across the state. There will be no mom and pop shops if we don't ensure that our community values residency in our ordinance. Residency grew out of the idea for out of state tuition and is backed by AUMA, and other locality's ordinances – Sonoma, Trinity and Colorado even had one, just to name a few. When we are talking about a limited number of permits, the illegality argument goes out the window when constituents aren't being served by their electeds.

    Based on my experience working in Richmond on this same process, there will be an application process where each application is graded using a rubric that is established before the applications are released. The best team wins — All we are asking for, is that there is extra points granted to those who live here, have demonstrated community involvement, pay their workers above and beyond our minimum wage and want to hire locals.

    AICC has been in contact with all of the electeds, but Trish is a triple negative breast cancer survivor who JUST started diffusion again shortly after we formed in March of 2017.

    If you live in Alameda, please give Alameda Island Cannabis Community a follow on Facebook and see what we are up to. We aren't some cover for a monopoly, or trying to have the government control all. Please feel free to reach out to me. I cordially invite you to our group meeting on June 5th at Cafe Muse @7pm, and we are presenting a powerpoint on June 6th at City Council @7pm. See you there!


  4. There are a lot of examples of dispensaries like Harborside, Harvest, and Barbary Coast that operate clean, safe and law abiding establishments. Local resident participation is a good idea as those business owners will have a stake in the community that goes beyond a simple profit motive. Over two thirds of Alameda residents voted in favor of adult use (recreational) marijuana, so it follows that the City Council is simply reflecting the desires of the majority of the community. With the advent of legalized use coming in January, establishing common sense regulations that protect the culture of the city is the responsible thing to do. Let's bring cannabis business to Alameda, but let's be sure we do it in a responsible way. The people have spoken.


  5. I'm surprised that councilman Jim Oddie, whose employer Assemblyman Rob Bonta is a major pot money campaign fund raiser, hasn't yet made the argument that granting licenses to Mr. Bonta's contributors is really just a necessary measure to resist the oppression of the Trump administration. But I bet that's coming later.


  6. Either have pot shops or don't. I'm not crazy about the idea. I am even less crazy about selling policy in this manner. This business about being in Alameda for the past 3 years (why 3?) or employing locals is: (1) probably unconstitutional and, if not, should be (2) a complete crock of shit that serves as a cover for having the city grant monopolies to interested parties; and (3) just about the last step before placing every life decision into the hands of local commissars: what next, by City mandate, no kissing until after the 3rd date, 3 passes before taking a jump shot, father, son and holy ghost before expressing an opinion, check 3 times before crossing the street????


  7. By MW:

    Even though it could lead to considerably more murders within the city limits (after all, pot shops are frequent sites of robberies and shootings), however since it could be profitable, and perhaps even extremely profitable, therefore I see no reason for the city of Alameda to not get involved in the cannabis industry.

    Also, it might cause considerably more of the city's teenagers and residents in their twenties to become drug addicts and/or unemployed and on welfare, however if it would be a profitable business, then let's have as many pot shops as possible.

    In fact, Alameda should also allow the pot shops to also sell additional drugs, and including cocaine, heroin, and crack, and also any other drugs that there could be a profitable business in marketing.

    And Alameda should not stop with merely selling drugs. There could also be an extremely profitable market in selling slaves.

    Also, plenty of Bay area building owners want to do “cleanups” of hazardous and cancer causing materials, and including asbestos, as inexpensively as possible, so Alameda could make still additional money by setting up an employment agency which would supply the homeless and undocumented aliens to any business that wants to cut corners.


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