Montclair has accepted a $195,000 grant from the state to create a commercial cannabis licensing program.
The majority of the funding awarded by the California Department of Cannabis Control is aimed at creating an ordinance allowing the sale of cannabis in the city. Montclair voters legalized the sale of cannabis and approved a 7% tax on commercial cannabis businesses in the November 2022 election.
Measure R, the tax measure, passed with 70% of the vote and Measure II, legalizing commercial cannabis in the city, passed with about 52% of the vote.
Measure R is expected to bring in $3.5 million per year in local sales tax revenue once cannabis sales start. The funds would support the city’s General Fund — which pays for operations, everything from pencils to payroll — and would be used for law enforcement and education, said City Manager Edward Starr.
“Our intent would be to use it for code enforcement and additional police enforcement, particularly as it relates in both of those areas, to regulation of commercial cannabis activity in the community,” said Starr. “We would also plan on using it for educational purposes, specifically to try and target high school students to try and educate them about not using drugs.”
Starr said he recognized the irony of promoting an anti-drug campaign while legalizing cannabis sales but, he noted, legal cannabis use is limited to adults over age 21.
The grant is part of a push from the Department of Cannabis Control to encourage cities to legalize commercial cannabis in an attempt to provide consumers with ample access to regulated and tested product, according to the DCC website. California voters legalized marijuana in 2016 with Proposition 64, but 60% of California cities have not approved the commercial sale of cannabis, the DCC reports.
The department is planning to release funding in two phases, the first to help cities develop ordinances and legalize commercial cannabis and the second based on the number of retail licenses a city issues.
Montclair was awarded $195,000 as part of the phase one grant. The City Council accepted the funds at its meeting Monday, Sept. 18, the month after the city received its official agreement with the DCC.
Starr said the money has a restricted use and that $150,000 of the grant is specifically for the city’s commercial cannabis ordinance. The remaining $45,000 is for the development of a state-mandated program designed to assist underprivileged people, or those who have drug convictions, to obtain commercial cannabis permits, Starr said.
Before Montclair can move forward, however, the City Council must adopt an ordinance detailing how commercial cannabis businesses will operate in town.
Starr said he expects to bring a proposed ordinance to the council in early 2024.