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Cannabis inches closer to establishing roots in Riverside

Riverside could have commercial cannabis dispensaries as soon as 2024

The City of Riverside Planning Commission, on December 8, 2022, held a workshop to discuss bringing commercial cannabis to operate dispensaries at 14 locations in Riverside. The workshop is part of a series of actions leading up to a proposed Council vote in 2023 and a tax ballot measure being presented to the public in the 2024 General Election. 

The Commissioners discussed the need to have quality services being provided to citizens without making the regulations so unobtainable that mom and pop shops are unable to hold a permit. After the State legalized marijuana for use by adults 21 and older in 2016, the City of Riverside passed a moratorium on commercial cannabis for the purpose of understanding the cannabis industry further prior to allowing it in our City. In 2018, the city codified a prohibition of commercial cannabis throughout the City. 

Starting in November 2021, Councilmember Fierro has been working with the City’s Economic Development Committee to put forward a proposal to remove the prohibition and allow the City to generate additional revenue. In March of 2022, the Economic Development Placemaking, and Branding/Marketing Committee took steps towards initiating a proposal to the City Council. 

At the meeting on December 8, City staff presented background on the proposed amendments to the Riverside Municipal Code and the future actions of the long-standing project. Commissioners requested that the Title 5 updates to the business licensing requiring dispensaries to have a 1,000-foot buffer to additional facilities than proposed, to include places of worship, parks, and higher education facilities. The City’s Senior Planner indicated that they will update the map with the proposed locations, but cautions that too much limiting would cause these companies to be in pockets and not throughout the City. 

Next actions to be taken include the City Council to consider the proposed amendments with the Planning Commission’s recommendations. A financial analysis is to be conducted to determine potential revenue as well as establishing the implementation period.