Menlo Park city staff is recommending that the City Council prohibit cannabis business-related land uses and ban growing marijuana outdoors. The City Council is scheduled to take up the matter at its meeting tonight (June 18).
After the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) voter initiative passed in November 2016 – which was supported by 67% of Menlo Park voters – the Menlo Park City Council in October 2017 enacted a two-year moratorium on outdoor personal cannabis cultivation and commercial cannabis land uses.
Under the moratorium, people are still allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants indoors and possess cannabis for personal use.
The law received stronger support in Menlo Park than even the county as a whole – which passed the law with a 63% rate of approval – and significantly more than the state as a whole, which supported the law with a 57% rate of approval.
While business applications for cannabis-related operations are processed by the state, the state defers to decisions by local jurisdictions on whether or not to permit cannabis-related businesses.
Cities can also set up their own licensing requirements, or establish separate standards, requirements and regulations for health and safety, environmental protections, testing, security, food safety and worker protections that go beyond state standards.
Most cities in San Mateo County have banned people from growing cannabis outdoors, though Pacifica allows people to grow it outside so long as it's in the backyard, enclosed with a locked fence and isn't directly adjacent to a school or youth center.
When growing cannabis indoors for personal use, people may grow plants so long as they are fully enclosed in a greenhouse on the same property as the home and not publicly visible, according to a staff report.
Non-medical marijuana retail businesses have other restrictions. Existing alcohol and tobacco stores aren't allowed to sell cannabis products, and retailers have to be 600 feet from a school or organization that serves kids. Many communities have extended this buffer to 1,000 feet, according to the report. While some cities have outright banned retailers – such as Palo Alto – other nearby jurisdictions, like Pacifica, permit retailers. Other jurisdictions, like Redwood City and Mountain View, limit retailers to non-storefront locations, according to city staff.