Changes to Oakland's Medical Cannabis Rules - With Update

Update on May 17, 2016 at 10 pm: The City Council tonight passed the ordinance unanimously but several council members committed to making amendments. A key issue is whether existing operating cultivation and manufacturing businesses will be able to get licenses, or whether they risk being frozen out by the requirements of the equity program to grant licenses to equity-eligible licensees on a 1:1 basis with non-eligible licensees. Many current operators spoke against the equity program because they feared being unable to get a license.

Original Post:
On May 17, Oakland's City Council is expected to vote in a series of changes to Oakland's Municipal Code relating to cannabis. The full text of the most recent proposed changes are available from the City's website. We offer a summary of the key provisions.

  • Additional Dispensiary Licenses

Currently Oakland allows licenses for 8 dispensaries. That number is already operating, effectively prohibiting new ones. The proposed changes will allow up to 8 additional brick-and-mortar dispensaries per year, plus an unlimited number of delivery-only dispensaries. (Revised Code Section 5.80.020(C))

  • Equity Permit Program

While the current Municipal Code requires that Oakland give unspecified preference in licensing, the new code would require 50% of new licensees to be eligible for the Equity Permit Program. Eligible licensees are those owned at least 50% by a person who has resided in specified areas of Oakland (Oakland Police Department Beats 26Y, 30X, 30Y, 31Z, 32Y, and 34X; a map of the beats is avaiable here); or by someone who has been incarcertated for a marijuana-related offense as a result of a conviction arising out of Oakland in the last ten years. (Revised Code Section 5.80.045)

  • Profits Allowed

Previously, licensed dispensaries were not permitted to make a profit on sale or distribution beyond necessary to cover overhead and operating expenses. That prohibition is lifted. (Revised Code Section 5.80.060)

  • Onsite Consumption Permits

Licensees may seek a secondary permit for onsite consumption. (Revised Code Section 5.80.025)

  • Oakland Resident Employees

At least 50% of dispensaries employees must be Oakland residents, and at least 25% must be from high-unemployment tracts in Oakland. (Revised Code Section 5.80.040(C))

  • Living Wage

Dispensary employees must be paid Oakland's living wage. (Revised Code Section 5.80.040(D)) That wage is currently $14.10 an hour if health care coverage is provided, and $12.27 otherwise.