Category Archives: Cannabis

City of Benicia releases carefully worded cannabis update

City Manager
250 East L Street, Benicia, California 94510
Contact: Lorie Tinfow, City Manager, (707) 746-4200,

City of Benicia Stays on Path to Allow Retail Cannabis Business

Number of businesses reduced to one that will be selected from existing set of nine proposals.

Benicia, CA (June 20, 2019) — On June 18, 2019, the City Council for the City of Benicia held a public hearing to consider amendments to Title 17 of the Benicia Municipal Code regarding cannabis. The City Council did not approve any amendments to the Benicia Municipal Code regarding cannabis during this hearing. Instead, on a motion of Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, seconded by Councilmember Steve Young, the City Council approved, on a 3-2 vote, to direct City staff to draft and submit to the Planning Commission and City Council an ordinance which amends Chapter 17.84 (Cannabis) of the Benicia Municipal Code as follows:

  1. Reduce the number of permitted cannabis retail businesses in the City from two to one. The existing nine cannabis retail business applicants would be subject to all requirements of the existing cannabis ordinance.
  2. Amend the existing definition of “school” to clarify that education provided is consistent with State curriculum standards.
  3. Prohibit all future applicants for retail cannabis businesses from locating within 600 feet of a child care center, youth center, learning center, residential zone or public park that is in existence at the time the use permit for a cannabis business is issued.

In addition, City staff will draft for City Council review and action, a resolution which establishes the procedures for issuance of cannabis use permits, including the process for selection of the cannabis retail business.

Because there are multiple steps (including hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council) which must be taken before these amendments can become effective, City staff will continue to put any further review and processing of cannabis retail business applications on hold until it has been determined which ordinance amendments, if any, will become final.

All other types of cannabis businesses—cultivation, testing, manufacturing, distribution, delivery and microbusiness—are allowed subject to adopted conditions.

For more information, contact: City Manager Lorie Tinfow at (707) 746-4200 or


Benicia cannabis compromise explained in detail

Mary Amey (writing as Manoa Kahalaopuna) has paid close attention to the cannabis controversy in Benicia, posting regularly and in detail on Benicia Nextdoor.  This review (and a second comment far below) is helpful…  

On the June 18 Benicia City Council cannabis decision

By Mary Amey (Manoa Kahalaopuna), Nextdoor

So to explain specifically what happened (there was a lot of back and forth and there was a last minute pivot on the motion to secure Campbell’s vote)…

The motion that passed last night approved ALL of Largaespada’s proposed buffers from the May 7th meeting (600′ around childcare center, youth center, learning center, residential, park – which would ban all appropriately zoned properties), but with the caveat that the the motion would apply to any future dispensary applicants and the existing 9 applicants would be grandfathered in and be allowed to proceed forward under the existing rules that were in place when they applied.

Also, the Council will be allowing 1 retail cannabis license (down from the original 2).

Next step will be the 2nd reading of the ordinance change. Per the Staff Report presented last night, this will occur on July 2nd. So mark your calendars and spread the word! We’ll need as much live in-person support as possible!

It was incredibly frustrating last night is that Largaespada continued to spew misinformation about his buffer zone change claiming all cities have these buffer zones, after I very specifically corrected the record on that item during my statement. His residential buffer zone of 600 feet is the most aggressive buffer zone for residential zones in the Bay Area (and only 2 Bay Area cities with operating dispensaries have such an aggressive residential buffer zone).

And Largaespada showed his true colors by voting against the very buffer zones HE proposed in the first place (just with a compromise to avoid lawsuit). It’s clear he just wants a ban under the guise of him “protecting the people.”

The buffer zones are totally disappointing, but I can accept major compromises needed to be made to prevent an outright ban. And the 9 applications can proceed forward under the old rules for the 1 retail cannabis license, which is a good thing!

[…and a second comment in a later Nextdoor post by Manoa Kahalaopuna…]

There was a lot of discussion regarding clarifying the definition of “schools” in the City Code and adding a 500-600 foot buffer around city public parks. But the Council pivoted at the very last second and modified the motion *right* before the final vote to garner Campbell’s vote because he said he wanted all the buffers (it happened so fast that I missed it last night and had to rewatch the motion this morning after the video was posted online to fully understand the specifics of the motion that was passed).

The motion that was approved was to amend the zoning code to include “all the buffers around the list that we had on the request” (i.e. Largaespada’s full buffer zone list) and “all the applicants would go forward with the hearing process” (i.e. grandfathering existing applicants), and it was further clarified that the new buffers would apply to all future applicants (not existing applicants).

Video below – Fast forward to 4:18.

Summary and analysis of Benicia City Council’s compromise and reversal of retail cannabis ban

By Craig Snider, Benicia, June 19, 2019

The meeting went about the same as the last few.

The same string of opponents highlighted the same issues as before.  Who knew (?!) that…

    • administering cannabis retail will cost a city nearly $1,000,000 per year,
    • kids should not smoke weed,
    • you could turn into a murderer of old ladies if you smoke pot,
    • a cannabis shop could get robbed at gunpoint with dire consequences,
    • crime skyrockets in towns with cannabis shops,
    • home values will plummet by $100,000-$200,000 in the vicinity of a cannabis shop,
    • the presence of even one cannabis store will destroy a town’s reputation and send it on the road to ruin,
    • the black markets will persist despite the presence of legal cannabis stores, etc., etc.

The pro-retail cast of characters was smaller than past meetings, and continued to refute the outrageous claims of the Reefer Madness crowd.  I’m guessing many are simply suffering from CMF (Cannabis Meeting Fatigue).

I presented the petitions with 593 signatures.  About half came from the online   The Council asked me about next steps and I said we were encouraged by the ease of a handful of folks gathering so many signatures in just two weeks, and would likely move forward with a ballot initiative if a retail ban were enacted.

Not surprisingly, Largaespada and Strawbridge were unmoved by any sort of argument.  They are both aligned with the Reefer Madness crowd and unwilling to view the issue objectively.

As demonstrated often in the past, Tom Campbell sought a compromise position and to his credit, decided to honor the current process by “grandfathering in” the nine applicants under the Feb. 20, 2018, ordinance; but awarding just one permit (not two).  In a nod to the anti-retail crowd, he agreed to impose more restrictive buffers around parks, etc. for any future retail cannabis applicants.  This was a compromise on Tom’s part because throughout the process he’s been steadfast in restricting retail to the industrial park.

Personally, I was disappointed that we won’t have two locations.  From a business perspective, with a goal of fostering successful small businesses in Benicia, it would be better to have some competition and, if one fails, the other would hopefully succeed.  On the other hand, one store will still be competing with the well-greased Vallejo contingent and a single store might be more likely to succeed in the more limited Benicia and vicinity market.

Of note was the discussion of administrative costs to the City.  The council peppered city staff with questions about cost, especially after Largaespada suggested it run over half a million dollars. City staff consistently stated they didn’t know, but that it would not differ much from other businesses.  Staff deferred to Chief Upson, who suggested they would likely hire a contractor to do periodic compliance checks regarding security and operations for two cannabis shops.  He suggested the cost could be as high as half an employee-year, but he would contract that work at significantly less that the cost of a police officer.   He thought it could run $30,000 per year for the contract.  With only one retail store, the cost would, of course, be much less.

Craig Snider

Video – Benicia City Council reverses ban on retail cannabis

Benicia City Council hearing – June 18, 2019
Item 15.B – Cannabis retail ban reversed

Excerpt from City of Benicia website
Video begins at 36:47 and ends at 3:42:06.