Santa Fe likely won’t have a set of recreational cannabis rules in place until Oct. 1, a month after the state begins accepting licenses to produce marijuana, City Manager Jarel LaPan Hill said Wednesday.
The city’s Planning Commission sub-policy committee has begun reviewing the land use code and expects to have a list of zoning recommendations for discussion by mid-August, interim Land Use Director Jason Kluck told the City Council.
The timeline drew the ire of Councilor Michael Garcia, who said the pace would stall entrepreneurial efforts.
“What’s our plan?” Garcia said. “How are [we] going to get this done in 45 days? … We’re very late to this. To expect us to pass quality policy and engage our constituents in 45 days or less, it is very disappointing. This [is] not something that was just dropped on us. We have known about this for months.”
Recreational cannabis sales will begin by April 1, but the state has asked local municipalities to have a set of rules in place by Sept. 1 when it starts accepting licenses for producing marijuana.
Counties and municipalities cannot prohibit the production and sale of cannabis, but they can place limits on density, hours of operation and proximity to schools and day care centers.
“We are starting to identify what parts of the code can house these various amendments, how to interwork these policy considerations into our code,” said Sally Paez, assistant city attorney.
Garcia said the city could have expedited the process.
“We knew this was coming,” Garcia said. “We are stopping business from happening when we should be doing everything to promote business.”
John Blair, deputy superintendent of the state Department of Regulation and Licensing, said people are considering their options now that draft rules has been released by the state.
He said mostly existing medical cannabis producers are signing leases for additional space in anticipation of the new industry.
The passage of the Cannabis Regulation Act does include new cannabis business types, including “cannabis consumption areas” and “cannabis producer microbusiness.”
According to a city memo, the Planning Commission sub-policy committee has already identified where some of the new businesses should reside under the existing code.
Emily Kaltenbach of the Drug Policy Alliance said a lot of what the city has put in place for the medical cannabis industry works as a foundation for recreational cannabis.
Medical cannabis shops are zoned as “apothecary” in the city’s land use code.
”We’re a small town and I would urge the city and members to look at what you’ve done for medical,” Kaltenbach said. “I think there won’t be major changes to zoning.”