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Belmont Bans Buds

Eaze and other delivery services make it easy to order cannabis. Photo: Brant Ward / San Francisco Chronicle

On Tuesday, September 12 the Belmont City Council shot down a proposal by City Attorney Scott Rennie to ban the delivery of medical cannabis within the city but went along with a ban on dispensaries and all commercial growing and distribution of cannabis. The council voted 3 – 1 to have a ban in place before California begins licensing growers, manufacturers, distributors, and retail businesses on January 1, 2018 in accordance with 2016 Proposition 64, approved by 57 percent of voters statewide and 64 percent of Belmont voters.

“I don’t hear anyone who wants to allow commercial establishments within city limits and I agree with that 100 percent,” said Mayor Charles Stone after the council’s discussion. No members of the public spoke on the item.

But the council was split on whether to continue allowing delivery services to operate in Belmont, with Vice Mayor Douglas Kim arguing to ban them.

“Banning delivery would be consistent with my view that I don’t want to support commerce of weed in the city,” said Kim, who cast the dissenting vote against the commercial cannabis ban. “Edibles have an odor, so I don’t see them as very different from having a bundle of weed,” he said in response to a comment by City Council member Warren Lieberman that many cannabis consumers purchase edibles.

Rennie urged banning deliveries of cannabis as well, imagining that businesses such as Eaze rely purely on cash transactions that automatically attract crime. “A delivery person has a likelihood of being someone driving around in a car with a certain quantify of drugs and a certain quantify of cash, which would make them potentially be a target for being robbed,” said Rennie.

But Lieberman and Stone objected, supporting the commercial cannabis ban but not a ban on deliveries. City Council member Davina Hurt agreed, while City Council member Eric Reed was absent. Belmont Police Chief Daniel DeSmidt was clueless at the meeting but seemed to prefer not to try busting people for delivering weed.

“It’s like pizza delivery service, only faster and more effective,” said DeSmidt. “I don’t even know what regulation or enforcement of that would look like. But we’ll do our best.”

For now, the Belmont City Council appears content to allow other cities to reap the financial rewards of regulating cannabis businesses in the wake of California’s eminent “legalization”.

“Someday we may want to change our minds completely and get sales tax revenue, but we’re nowhere near that happening right now,” concluded Stone.