Ventura likely to become latest city in Ventura County to allow cannabis businesses

Mike Harris

| Ventura County Star

Ventura looks to become the latest city in Ventura County to allow commercial cannabis businesses.

Now that the city’s Measure I to tax such businesses appears to have been approved by voters in the Nov. 3 election, the City Council on Monday night is expected to introduce an ordinance to permit the establishments to open starting next year.

The ordinance was contingent on the measure passing.

Currently, the city’s zoning ordinance prohibits commercial cannabis uses, except for deliveries, which the state requires cities to allow.

But the city now wants the cannabis businesses so they can generate tax revenues to help fund city services.

A limited number of such businesses would be allowed: a maximum of two retail and five industrial – manufacturing, testing labs and distribution.

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Cultivation, however, would continue to be prohibited.

“Implementation of the proposed commercial cannabis program, in conjunction with the recently voter-approved sales tax, is projected to provide a new revenue source for the city,” a staff report to the council states.

“If the maximum number of businesses are allowed, the estimated annual tax revenue would be about $400,000, with the bulk of the revenue from the retail cannabis businesses,” the report says. “The annual revenue could be greater depending on the size and success of the retail establishments.”

If the ordinance is introduced Monday night, it’s scheduled to be adopted by the council Dec. 7 and go into effect Jan. 7, which is when the businesses could start applying to the city.

Had Measure I failed, the City Council would have abandoned its plans to start allowing the commercial cannabis businesses.

But in the latest semi-official final results Thursday, the measure was winning formidably: 42,251 votes, 71.86% of the total, in favor; 16,548 votes, 28.14% of the total, against.

The measure would tax cannabis

and hemp businesses at annual rates not to exceed $10 per canopy square foot for cultivation – adjustable for inflation – 8% of gross receipts for retail cannabis businesses and 4% for all other cannabis businesses.

Read more: Cannabis dispensary burglarized in Ojai, suspect arrested

Peter Gilli, the city’s community development director, said even though cultivation will continue to be prohibited by the city, Measure I proposes taxing any future cultivation businesses just in case the state at some point mandates that cities allow them, just as it requires cities to permit cannabis deliveries.

While hemp businesses are currently allowed by the city, there have been no applications to open one, according to city records, Gilli said in late October.

Commercial cannabis businesses have been approved by some other cities in Ventura County, including Port Hueneme, Oxnard and Thousand Oaks.

Several dispensaries have opened in Port Hueneme, but none yet in Oxnard or Thousand Oaks. Thousand Oaks’ approved dispensaries are for medical marijuana.

A cannabis testing facility approved by Thousand Oaks hasn’t opened yet either.

A measure on the Nov. 3 ballot to allow commercial production of marijuana in greenhouses in unincorporated areas of the county was also headed for victory.

More: Camarillo business drives funding of cannabis initiative, stands to benefit

In the latest returns Thursday, Measure O had 227,395 votes, 57.22% of the total, in favor, with 170,038 votes, 42.78% of the total, against.

Monday’s virtual Ventura City Council meeting starts at 6 p.m. and can be viewed online at cityofventura.ca.gov/718/Videos, YouTube.com/cityofventura/live or on cable TV Channel 15.

Mike Harris covers the cities of Moorpark, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Ventura, as well as transportation countywide. You can contact him at [email protected] or 805-437-0323.

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