Arcata’s cannabis dispensaries going recreational

Patrick Evans
Mad River Union

ARCATA – Recreational cannabis cultivation and sale is close to being approved for two dispensaries in Arcata and for businesses in Arcata’s Medical Marijuana Innovation Zone (MMIZ).

The Arcata Planning Commission unanimously passed a proposal for a set of amendments to the city Land Use Code Tuesday, Nov. 29 that would line up city law with California state cannabis law set to take effect January 1, 2018.

Community Development Director David Loya said the Land Use Code amendments are a response to an urgent need from Arcata residents to begin the application process before legalization takes effect.

The amendments would allow residents to apply for state licenses while the city finishes overhauling Municipal and Land Use Codes. Loya said the process would be finished sometime late next year.

The code changes would mirror legal language used at state level, replacing the phrase “medical-marijuana” in the code with “cannabis,” which covers both medical and non-medical production.

The Land Use Code amendments will also allow retail sale by two dispensaries in downtown Arcata, Humboldt Patient Resource Center and Heart of Humboldt, while prohibiting any further recreational sales or cultivation outside of the Innovation Zone on West End Road.

The Medical Marijuana Innovation Zone will undergo a name change to reflect the new language, to the Cannabis Innovation Zone.

Concurrent changes to the city’s Commercial Cannabis Activity Permit will also allow cultivators and manufacturers in the Innovation Zone to apply for state licenses.

A key part of the permit would allow businesses to obtain licenses while they are building infrastructure and have yet to begin production.

Supporters of the amendments at the meeting included representatives from dispensaries, cannabis testing laboratories and property owners in the MMIZ.

Humboldt Patient Resource Center Director Mariellen Jurkovich spoke to the commission and said the Resource Center would be applying for both medical and recreational state licenses.

The Resource Center needs a recreational permit to compete with dispensaries in Eureka and maintain service to its patients when state law takes effect next year.

“Our patients are asking for this, a lot of people will not be going to get doctors’ recommendations when this goes into effect, even if they do need them,” Jurkovich said.

The amendments to the Land Use Code will be up for a first reading at the City Council meeting Wednesday, Dec. 6, and will take effect immediately after a second reading at the City Council meeting Dec. 20.


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