In June of 2021, the County of Mendocino adopted Ordinance 4491, which amended Chapter 6.36 and Chapter 20.243 of the Mendocino County Code. Commonly known as the “Cannabis Facilities Ordinance”, Ordinance 4491 made changes to the rules and regulations governing commercial cannabis business uses unrelated to cannabis cultivation, in Mendocino County.
How Does Mendocino County’s Cannabis Facilities Ordinance Affect Cannabis Businesses?
Many of the amendments were simply made to bring Mendocino County’s Commercial Cannabis Ordinance in line with state law and regulations. For reference, the Cannabis Facilities Ordinance addresses businesses like cannabis microbusinesses, processing businesses, manufacturing businesses, distribution businesses, retail businesses, and testing labs and research facilities.
Of particular importance are the ways in which Ordinance 4491 expands the ability of licensed cannabis businesses to put on or participate in cannabis events and other business models that have traditionally not included cannabis. For example, pursuant to Ordinance 4491, cannabis farmers markets, cannabis farm tours, and cannabis lodging are all now possible in Mendocino County. Additionally, on site consumption is allowed (with all necessary permits and licenses) at licensed cannabis retailer facilities and cannabis events, thus making Mendocino County one of the most forward-thinking localities when it comes to allowing cannabis events and consumption areas.
Mendocino’s Cannabis Facilities Ordinance Allows for On-site Consumption of Cannabis
While cannabis events and on sight consumption areas are exciting, they are not without regulation or operational requirements. For example, according to Section 20.243.040(D) of the Ordinance, on-site consumption of cannabis and cannabis products is permitted at a licensed retail dispensary and at licensed cannabis events held in the County if, among other things, the following requirements are met:
- Access to the area where cannabis consumption is allowed is restricted to persons 21 years of age or older.
- Cannabis consumption is not visible from any public place or area restricted due to age.
- For retail dispensaries, sale or consumption of alcohol or tobacco is prohibited on the premises.
If those operational requirements sound familiar, it is because they are. They were taken directly from the Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MAUCRSA”), which is the State statute applicable to, among other things, medical and adult use commercial cannabis businesses.
Ordinance 4491 & Cannabis Farmer’s Markets
As noted above, Mendocino County’s Facilities Ordinance also discusses specific events like cannabis farmer’s markets that can now take place at specified places within County limits. Cannabis farmer’s markets cannot take place in parks or youth-oriented facilities; however, public fairgrounds are specifically noted as a place where cannabis farmer’s markets may occur. All vendors participating in a cannabis farmer’s market must have an active non-storefront retail cannabis facilities business license and all cannabis and cannabis products sold at such markets must be compliant with State requirements including testing, packaging, and labeling requirements.
Cannabis Lodging in Mendocino County
Perhaps the most unique amendments included in Ordinance 4491 are those pertaining to cannabis lodging (see Section 20.243.040(D)(10)). With the adoption of Ordinance 4491, licensed non-storefront cannabis retailers may now operate in conjunction with lodging facilities to offer cannabis to overnight guests. According to the Ordinance, cannabis and cannabis products can either be included in the nightly rate of the accommodation or be sold separately. This seems to mean that a licensed retailer could open a cannabis friendly hotel and offer cannabis products to guests as either a part of their stay (think room and product bundles) or in addition to it (allowing guests to order cannabis to their rooms and consume it inside).
While this may seem silly to some, one of the major concerns about cannabis sales is the fact that many people, including tourists, may not have a safe, legal, and private space to consume the cannabis they buy, which makes public consumption of cannabis more likely. By allowing cannabis friendly lodging, the County has created the ability for those visiting the area to have a safe and legal place to consume cannabis and cannabis products, which is critical as more and more people from outside of California travel to into the State to participate in the legal cannabis market.
For more information about Mendocino County’s Cannabis Facilities Ordinance, contact Rogoway Law Group today.