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Mtn. View council revisits cannabis retail rules as dozens object

In a repeat of last October, dozens of residents lined up to speak at a Mountain View City Council hearing last night, mostly in protest of an ordinance allowing retail cannabis sales.

Speakers seemed to be most concerned about the prospect of a cannabis retailer setting up shop downtown on Castro Street. Several parents pointed to such stores’ negative influence on their impressionable children.

“Why us?” asked resident Julia Tam. “The incentive behind this proposal is strictly business. … To have it open downtown is not a good thing.”

Resident Brian Taylor, who favors the retail sale of cannabis, “counterbalanced” the objections of a “vocal misinformed minority in the community.”

“Tens of thousands voted for this, by my math,” said Taylor, referring to overwhelming voter approval for Proposition 64 in 2016, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state.

Taylor acknowledged that children should not use cannabis, but they shouldn’t drink alcohol, either.

“Should we close all the bars on Castro Street?” he asked.

The council, comprising two different members, passed a cannabis ordinance last October that allowed two retailers and two distributors, with the businesses selected through a lottery. The following month, voters approved a tax on cannabis sales even as they voted out two council members who voted in favor of the cannabis ordinance.

The council held a public hearing Tuesday on the issue after new Councilwoman Ellen Kamei suggested last month bringing the ordinance back for review for some tweaking. She suggested amendments that would prohibit establishment of cannabis retailers in the San Antonio area, which the Los Altos School District is targeting for building a new campus.

The council did not take action last night to officially change any part of the ordinance. However, members approved motions to give staff guidelines for amendments down the road, including no cannabis sales within 1,000 feet of schools and a limit of one cannabis retailer in the downtown area, and no other competing retailer less than a half-mile from the other.

In the wake of impending changes, city staff may return with an “urgency ordinance” for the council to approve to suspend implementation of the current ordinance so that amendments can be made. Under the current ordinance, a lottery for accepting retailer applicants was scheduled to open later this month.

For more information on the cannabis ordinance and the ongoing debate, see the full story in the Town Crier’s March 13 print edition.

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