Napa City Council approves ordinance allowing retail sale of adult-use cannabis | local news


Adults will soon be able to purchase cannabis products from the city of Napa’s retail cannabis stores without the need for a medical use card.

The Napa City Council on Tuesday night approved 4-1 the first reading of an ordinance amendment allowing adult sales to persons 21 and older. The regulation will come into force 30 days after approval of the second reading of the amendment, which is scheduled to take place at a future Council meeting.

Napa currently only allows medicinal sales of cannabis through an ordinance passed in 2017. This means that people need a doctor-approved cannabis use card to purchase cannabis products from any of the city’s six pharmacies. And while acquiring a medical utility card can take as little as 10 to 15 minutes, it still presents a financial and logistical hurdle for customers, according to local cannabis distributors.

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As such, local cannabis retailers have said opening up sales to adults will give them a significant financial boost. Aimee Henry, an owner of Napa Cannabis Collective, previously estimated that allowing adult use would at least triple the number of customers the store serves each month.

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At Tuesday’s virtual meeting, several public commentators representing unions called on the council to pass a requirement that commercial cannabis licensees with 10 or more employees enter into an industrial peace agreement — essentially a contract that allows those employees to work among other things to unionize – with a union. California law currently requires cannabis dealers to enter into such an agreement if they have employed 20 or more non-executive employees.

“I think strengthening this requirement for industrial peace would send a message that Napa is a culture that supports its employees, and I’m just curious as to why anyone is opposed to it,” said Danny Bernardini, executive director of the Napa-Solano Building and Council of Construction Professions.

Desiring not to delay approval, the City Council eventually voted to go ahead with the proposed change. The permit application also directed city officials to return to labor peace agreements and potential limitations on distance between retailers and the number of cannabis retailers allowed in Napa with next steps.

Although a two-year moratorium on new applications for adult use has been proposed by local pharmacies to help them stabilize financially and give the city room to make potential regulations, council members expressed a disinterest in a moratorium be.

Councilor Liz Alessio, who voted against the change, proposed several changes to the regulation. For one, she suggested the city limit the number of pharmacies to one store per 10,000 residents. She also proposed a number of Napa County public health recommendations made in a 2018 presentation, such as banning the advertising of cannabis products near school areas.

She said it could be a big challenge to “open the floodgates” for adult applications and then try to adjust the regulations later.

However, Council Member Beth Painter said the Council should pass the regulation amendment first and consider the additional regulatory issues going forward. Painter added that, in theory, she has no interest in implementing stricter standards for industrial peace agreements.

“This is an evolving area, there will be questions and I want us to be open to that in the future, but I think this fulfills the very first step of what we wanted to achieve,” Painter said. “I really don’t want to cause a delay with unanswered questions.”

Mayor Scott Sedgley said he also does not oppose adding updated standards for industrial peace agreements, but that doing so may delay the ordinance’s approval.

“I would hate to drag it out any longer,” Sedgley said.

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You can reach Edward Booth at (707) 256-2213.