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Pico Rivera reconsiders allowing marijuana businesses

people shopping at dispensary

 

Customers shop inside the 420 Central dispensary in Santa Ana on the first day to buy recreational marijuana in California on Jan. 1, 2018. Corona officials are considering allowing a maximum of 17 dispensaries, or stores, in the Riverside County city — one for every 10,000 residents. (File photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Nearly two years after banning industrial, medical and retail marijuana cannabis operations within Pico Rivera, City Council members have put the legalization of such businesses back on the table.

The reason is money.

“There’s potential revenue of $700,000 a year for the city,” Councilman Andrew Lara said during a study session at the Aug. 31 council meeting. “That would put that industry into the top third of tax revenue producers. It’s hard not to think of that tax revenue.”

In addition, back when Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in California, was on the ballot in 2016, Pico Rivera voters approved it by a 53%-47% margin, Lara said.

“My suspicion is that number would be much higher today,” he said.

But there remain questions the council has to study before it can legalize marijuana, other council members said.

“All five of us will look at this through a neutral lens,” Councilman Erik Lutz said in a Tuesday, Sept. 7 telephone interview. “I want to evaluate the pros and cons.”

For example, Lutz said, “When you have a lot of retail, do you have to amp up security and put more police in the neighborhood?”

City officials need to reach out to residents, school  board members, parents, the faith-based community and other community members, Councilwoman Monica Sanchez said, to determine what they think of welcoming marijuana-based businesses.

 

Councilman Gustavo Camacho wonders if Pico Rivera wants to be characterized as a cannabis city.

When the council banned marijuana operations in 2019, a city staff report said banning commercial cannabis “would prevent potentially detrimental health, safety and quality of life issues.”

The staff report also cited “loitering, increased security risks to nearby residences and businesses, increased risk of theft and other crimes, dangerous waste, water and electricity usage, and strong odors that can be detectable beyond the property boundaries.”

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