VISTA — The Vista City Council continues to support the city’s flourishing cannabis industry by exploring the possibility of allowing outdoor public and private events for licensed pot dispensaries.
During its April 25 meeting, the council directed staff to look at crafting regulations and incorporating state laws for cannabis-related events on private property or at city parks.
Councilman Joe Green, who brought forward the item, said while state law already has stringent guidelines in place for cannabis events, the city could add its own regulations in a push to draw more visitors and highlight its businesses.
“I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I’m trying to get the wheel rolling,” Green said. “This is simply allowing an event organizer to have an event. An event organizer cannot make money from selling cannabis.”
Green, a longtime supporter of legalized recreational cannabis, said event organizers, vendors and attendees must comply with several regulations.
Under state law, cannabis event promoters looking to host an event must have two licenses issued through the California Department of Cannabis Control — a cannabis event organizer license (for the person) and a temporary cannabis event license at least 60 days before the event (for the event itself).
An event organizer license does not authorize individuals to distribute, cultivate, manufacture or sell cannabis products at the event. In addition, all cannabis products sold at events must be supplied by Measure Z-approved dispensaries.
Attendees must be 21 or older, alcohol or tobacco consumption is prohibited at the event, and all cannabis products must be packaged and sealed in a tamper-evident bag upon leaving.
Despite the strict rules, Green said local dispensary owners support these gatherings.
“Speaking with the owners (of local cannabis dispensaries), they want events,” Green said. “They don’t have the ability to have any events, even a non-cannabis event, on their properties.”
Additionally, Green said the influx of visitors to cannabis events would boost the city’s other businesses, such as hotels and restaurants.
Councilwoman Corinna Contreras said she supports the idea of cannabis events but wouldn’t commit to a decision until after the city’s cannabis equity study is completed. According to City Manager John Conley, the study is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Councilwoman Katie Melendez said the events could also be a boon for the city’s short-term vacation rental market and transient occupancy tax, or hotel tax.
Mayor John Franklin, who was initially opposed to Measure Z, said he’s come around to the idea of legalized cannabis, noting the high levels of security and foot traffic at dispensaries have all been positives for the city. Franklin said at least one cannabis dispensary accounts for 1,600 cars daily, and many other operators have similar customer bases.