Covina Moves Forward With Cannabis Program

The program will continue to be vetted with research by the city


Photo from Pixabay

The Covina City Council unanimously voted to move forward regarding a local cannabis program on April 19. This decision brought the city one step closer to authorizing dispensaries within the city.

For now, the council continues to conduct and evaluate research on the topic before formulating substantial developments. A presentation with data collected by an ad-hoc committee reported out the city’s findings.

A study commissioned by the committee and conducted by FM3 Research Inc. also surveyed 438 random Covina residents in December 2020 on several topics regarding cannabis.

When asked about permitting cannabis businesses to operate in the city:

55% supported such a measure
60% agreed that cannabis businesses would benefit the local economy
57% supported adopting requirements for those businesses that would be stricter than those imposed by the state government.

Along with the survey, the committee partook in a variety of data-collecting efforts to better equip the city with the tools necessary to refine the cannabis program. These efforts included community outreach, research on the programs of nearby communities, engagement with public safety representatives and evaluation of federal law concerning cannabis.

After researching the topic since 2020, the committee made a list of recommendations, including;

Cap on Businesses: Implement a hard cap on the number of businesses that are permitted to operate in the city. This could be achieved by placing a limit to no more than one cannabis establishment/permit for every 15,000 residents in the city. Based on this cap and the city’s current population, no more than three businesses would be allowed to operate within the city’s boundaries.

Business Categories/Zoning: Limit business activities to include only storefront retail operations and/or microbusiness enterprises. Further, allow these types of business activities only in commercial and light manufacturing zoning districts in the city.

Entitlement Process: Require that businesses:
obtain a city regulatory permit,
City business license,
City conditional use permit,
comply with City, State and County codes
enter into a development agreement prior to opening for business.
If necessary, require that business applicants proceed with any necessary environmental reviews prior to beginning operations.

The lengthy list of recommendations also included items such as security plans, owner qualifications and community benefits.

Following the presentation, council members and attendees discussed the potential impacts of the program.

“I suspect that I’m the one that’s absolutely opposed to a dispensary of any kind in the city,” council member Walter Allen III said. “We owe it to our community to look at the downsides to having a dispensary in terms of our youth.”

Allen III went on to stress the addictive dangers of cannabis, the risks posed to children and the business side of ramifications.

“In terms of making a profit with a dispensary, right now, dispensaries are having a difficult time because the illicit dispensaries which are all over the state and particularly in southern California, they’re ruling the market,” he added. “If this is a money-making thing, I think we’re not going to see much money.”

Attendee Michaela Martin expressed that she does not believe the city is tackling the topic with enough care or speed.

“I don’t feel heard as a member of Covina,” she said. “I just hope that you guys really consider doing it and quickly… I just would really like to walk away from this meeting having an idea of a reasonable timeline of when you all will make a decision so that we’re not extending this another year.”

“I don’t smoke marijuana or cannabis, not even the Bill Clinton way, but I do know people that are into cannabis consumption,” council member Victor Linares said. “It’s been really one-sided. I’ve heard a lot more people tell me that they want to see it in Covina than the other way around.”

After emphasizing that considerable research would continue in the project to ensure that it would not inadvertently damage the community, the council unanimously approved moving the project forward.