Background - Half Moon Bay Cannabis Issue

The 2016 Vote

In November, 2016, the statewide Proposition 64 was placed on the ballot - the "Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA)". The AUMA legalized the nonmedical use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and over, and the personal cultivation of up to six marijuana plants. In addition, the AUMA created a state regulatory and licensing system governing the commercial cultivation, testing, and distribution of nonmedical marijuana, and the manufacturing of nonmedical marijuana products.

In Half Moon Bay, 69% of voters favored Proposition 64, 31% voted against it. In San Mateo County, the overall vote was 63% in favor, and 37% against, while state wide, the vote was 56% in favor and 44% against (percentages are rounded for clarity). 

Current Status

After many meetings and a robust public input process, the City Council placed several measures on the November 6, 2018 ballot, to provide voters with the opportunity to make their wishes known. Of the five measures on the November 6, 2018, ballot related to cannabis business, the “nursery” ordinance (allowing growing of only cannabis “starts,” or seedlings), and the cannabis tax measure passed. The measures on commercial cultivation, retail sales, and manufacturing of cannabis products (which were all advisory measures) did not pass. 

Both the tax ordinance and the nursery ordinance are now in effect. The City is exploring the best approach to enforce the ordinances, and is working on the licensing application materials

Key Meetings

Discussions have been held at a number of City Council meetings and community workshops to gain a better understanding of whether and how to move forward with possible regulations for cannabis business activities permitted under state law within the City limits.

  • November 21, 2017 City Council meeting: at the City Council meeting of November 21, 2017, staff presented an update on the development of the ordinance, along with a timeline for implementing and incorporating the research and outreach requested at the September 13, 2017 meeting. Following extensive public comment and deliberation by the Council, staff was directed to move forward with additional research, including a tax analysis, white paper study on the impacts of commercial cannabis operations, and a community survey. The Council also directed staff to prepare a draft ordinance that would only allow the cultivation of nursery starts, for review and discussion.
  • March 7, 2017 City Council meeting: after considering a great deal of community input and feedback from initial discussions (generally in support of commercial cannabis operations within the City) the City Council directed staff to proceed with drafting an ordinance to license and regulate commercial cultivation in existing greenhouse facilities only, including testing and wholesale distribution.  
  • August 15, 2017 City Council meeting: a variety of interested parties attended and provided additional comments. With that input, and after further discussion and deliberation, the City Council directed staff to include in the draft ordinance a wider set of regulations to encompass the potential for reconstructed greenhouses (of the existing size and on the same site), and ancillary retail sales of cannabis grown on-site.
  • September 13, 2017 community meeting: a full discussion was held to gain a better understanding of community members’ perspectives on the issue, and what direction people felt the City should be taking in order to move forward.
  • September 19, 2017 City Council meeting: staff presented a report on the September 13 community meeting as well as other feedback from the community received by City staff. Following substantial public comment, the Council deliberated on how to proceed with a proposed ordinance. The Council directed staff to continue to develop the draft ordinance and to explore additional research and outreach to help educate and inform the ultimate decision.
  • November 21, 2017 City Council meeting: staff presented an update on the development of the ordinance, along with a timeline for implementing and incorporating the research and outreach requested at the September 13, 2017 meeting. Following extensive public comment and deliberation by the Council, staff was directed to move forward with additional research, including a tax analysis, white paper study on the impacts of commercial cannabis operations, and a community survey. Following this additional information, the City plans to create ballot measures to allow voters to decide on which commercial cannabis activities, if any, they would allow in the City. A tax measure would also be created to create a potential revenue stream from any authorized commercial activities. These ballot and tax measures would be included in either the June or November 2018 elections. The Council also directed staff to prepare a draft ordinance that would only allow the cultivation of nursery starts, as a potential option for limited entry into commercial cannabis activities.

Earlier Half Moon Bay meetings and workshops: