February 22, 2018
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Cotati changes cannabis cultivation regulations

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
January 26, 2018

The Cotati City Council voted 5 to 0 Tuesday evening to amend several changes to the city’s cannabis regulations, where the most changes were made to the adult and caregiver cultivation aspect of the regulations, nixing the requirement for an administrative permit.

Among the other changes to be made to the lengthy draft that has been in the works for several months, is the idea of having the patient cap removed and having the application selection to be done by Cotati City Council. Amid the changes, council also asked staff to return with an alternative for allowing limited outdoor cultivation, which would be in addition to the allowance of six indoor plants.

The changes will also nix the rule stipulating that promotional and ancillary products such as hats or t-shirts won’t be sold at dispensary items. 

The aim of the agenda item was to introduce the ordinance as presented and have it amended by staff.

Viki Parker, Cotati Community Development Director said of the proposed changes, “Going into the planning commission hearing there were a number of conversations with public safety about whether or not there was a true need to separate personal or caregiver cultivation and based on the feedback we got, is that what’s easier to regulate and monitor and for the public to understand is to have all the (cap) numbers be the same. Whether it’s adult or medical caregiver use, having the cap at six is far better for people to understand and if that is the case, let’s just drop the permit requirement.”

However, there were a few public concerns regarding one other aspect of the ordinance, which says that cannabis businesses will not be permitted to have firearms. Mike, a Sebastopol resident expressed his concerns about this being a 2nd Amendment violation and said this could be a safety concern as other businesses along the Gravenstein Highway have been robbed despite having window bars and security cameras.

“A dispensary in Sebastopol was robbed and seeing bars and cameras didn’t stop it. People should have the option to protect themselves with firearms,” he said.

City Attorney Robin Donoghue said the city and state does have the rights to put in place such a rule, however, following the request of Mayor Mark Landman, she will look into the matter and provide a report at the next city council meeting.

Yet many other people were pleased with the way the draft was written and thanked the city for tackling such a complicated issue.

Craig Litman said of the city’s efforts in making and amending the draft, “I’m here to talk about how grateful I am that we’re moving forward. I’ve watched this process and I’ve worked with your staff and I really appreciate all the hard work put in this and I support this.”

Amber, the community outreach coordinator for Mercy Wellness also thanked city staff for their work with this ordinance and also announced that Mercy will be hosting an information event in Cotati about responsible and useful ways of living with cannabis.

Other notable discussions on the evening’s agenda item, was a proclamation in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Santa Rosa Junior College, which opened its doors in 1917 by a group of women who wanted to start a college and provide a place of learning.