Oakland approves new medical marijuana regulations

A favorite California pasttime became legal - Prop 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 allowed marijuana for personal medical use. (AP photo).

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- The Oakland City Council has preliminarily approved new legislation that increases the number of medical marijuana dispensaries and establishes procedures within city limits for the licensing and sale of medical marijuana.

The new measure was unanimously adopted early Wednesday by council members. A final approval is expected during the council's May 17 meeting. City leaders said the legislation will provide new ownership and job opportunities for Oakland residents in the growing medical cannabis industry.  

Oakland's new law will increase the number of new medical marijuana dispensary permits to eight per year and expand related businesses. 

"Californians have made it clear that they want  people to have safe, legal access to medical marijuana," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a written statement. "I'm proud that by adopting groundbreaking medical cannabis regulations, Oakland is creating a national model for how communities can bring every aspect of this growing sector of our economy into the light."

Under the legislation, the city will:

  • Require licensed medical cannabis facilities to maintain a staff of which half live in Oakland.
  • Encourage the owners of such facilities to hire and retrain city residents who have been incarcerated.
  • Require facility owners to maintain an ownership stake of at least 50 percent in the business.
  • Issue half of all permits to applicants who have lived at least 2 years in sectors of the city most affected by cannabis-related crimes.

The new city rule mirrors a state law known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which regulates the state's cannabis industry.

City officials say the lack of regulation in Oakland has prompted a host of burglaries and fires. They said the new law should curb such incidents and help grow the city's revenue base.

The 8 dispensaries in the city already generate about $4 million in revenue for the city's tax rolls. The expansion allowed by the ordinance should increase that number.

City officials said the ordinance will allow non-smoking, on-site consumption and grow the number of dispensaries in the city from the eight currently operating within Oakland.