Fontana City Council will allow retail commercial cannabis businesses to operate for first time | News

The Fontana City Council voted on July 12 to allow retail commercial cannabis businesses to operate and deliver products in Fontana for the first time.

The new ordinance will authorize only three permits to be issued in the city — one in the area north of Baseline Avenue, one between Baseline and Valley Boulevard, and one south of Valley.

The businesses must follow strict regulations and must be located at least 600 feet away from schools, parks, day cares, youth centers, and city boundaries.

“I have to applaud our staff for putting together what I think is a first-class ordinance,” said Mayor Acquanetta Warren during the meeting.

“It is anticipated that it generates significant income to the city,” said Deputy City Manager Phil Burum.

The ordinance was approved by a 4-1 margin, with Councilmember Jesse Sandoval casting the No vote.

Sandoval said that while a policy such as this one was needed, he felt the way this particular ordinance was written was too vague and said that more community input was needed.

In 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 years or older.

The following year, the Fontana City Council voted 3-2 to allow indoor marijuana cultivation on a very limited basis. Then in 2019, a successful lawsuit was filed against the city, forcing Fontana to ease some of the original restrictions it had implemented. Now the city has gone a step further and struck down the prohibition on retail businesses.

Warren noted that voters in Fontana tended to be in favor of more relaxed cannabis policies.

She said she has discussed the situation with Fontana residents, whose main focus was not prohibition but instead maintaining public safety.

The city received two written statements from residents regarding the issue, one in favor and one against, and the speakers during the public comments portion of the meeting praised the new ordinance.

Burum said about one-third of the cities in California have already approved pro-cannabis policies. Warren said Fontana has learned from what has transpired in those cities.

“We are benefiting from some mistakes other cities have made, and good policies other cities have made,” she said.

Burum said that when it comes to selling cannabis in Fontana, all involved parties must go through an extensive vetting process, and the business must have a state license in addition to a city permit/license.

Also, these are the restrictions that must be followed:

• No onsite consumption or no loitering

• Air filters and odor control required

• Must be at least 21 years old to enter or work in the business

• Strict inventory control and reporting procedures

• 24-hour security

• Inspections at will

• Permit is revokable for non-compliance, including “nuisance activity.”

• Non-assignable, non-transferable

• A change in ownership structure requires approval by the city, and new partners will require a full background check.

The Fontana ordinance, which applies to the areas within the city limits, will not be affected by San Bernardino County’s policy which prohibits all commercial cannabis activity, including delivery, within the unincorporated areas of the county.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is continuing to implement a major crackdown on illegal outdoor marijuana cultivation (called “Operation Hammer Strike”), which has been ongoing since last September. Some Fontana residents have been arrested due to this policy, but mainly the operation is aimed at curtailing large cultivations in desert communities.

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