Antioch Council directs staff to work on ordinance to allow cannabis events

The red highlighted area is the location of the Contra Costa Event Park (fairgrounds).

First one proposed for this summer at fairgrounds

“I know it will make Antioch a destination place” – Councilwoman Torres-Walker

By Allen Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, a majority of the Antioch City Council members supported creating an ordinance to allow cannabis events in the city, including at the Contra Costa Event Park (county fairgrounds), in response to an application by CoCo Farms. They have a permit from the state to hold 10 events per year.

“This process came out of a need to answer that we can’t say no or yes to,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe explained. “This came as a result of a request of the state.”

During public comments J.R. Wilson said he was speaking on behalf of the Delta Veterans Group “in support…to allow temporary cannabis events.”

Longtime Antioch resident Tom Menasco also spoke in favor of the proposal.

“I would like to support and encourage you to do whatever it takes,” he said, mentioning benefits to the community, “Specifically taxation.”

“These are going to be money-making events,” Menasco stated. “In addition to that, non-profits will benefit from, when they do produce revenue, we will benefit. If we miss this opportunity Concord or someone else will take advantage of this.”

“It was our application to the state,” said Martin Wesley of CoCo Farms. “We’ve worked with the fairgrounds. It’s additional tax revenue and will bring additional people into Antioch. Security will be top of mind.”

“We have a state license to have 10 of these a year and we thought Antioch should be our first,” he added.

District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson asked, “Can this go to the cannabis committee so we can properly vet this?”

Thorpe spoke of a timetable.

“For the future, we have a committee,” District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson pointed out.

“I know I support this. I support process, period,” said District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker. “I know it will make Antioch a destination place. We’re constantly talking about how to get more revenue and get more people to Antioch as a destination.”

“It’s not saying we’re opening the floodgates, and it will be a yes or no,” Barbanica said. “If it is a yes, then.

“What is the timeline,” Ogorchock said.

“I believe the applicant’s event is coming up,” City Attorney Thomas L. Smith said.

“420” people in the audience could be heard saying.

“The week of 420 (April 20th) is out of the cards, to do it right,” Wesley said. “The earliest we could do this is July or August.”

“We just did one in Santa Rosa and they sold 50,000 tickets,” he added.

“There’s time to go back to the Cannabis Committee,” Wilson said. “So, I ask that it go back.”

“City Attorney, there’s no time in the process?” she asked.

“I didn’t say that,” Smith responded. “Whatever the council directs.”

“It’s a discussion item. Did you get direction?” Thorpe asked Smith.

“I believe I have direction,” Smith responded.

“So, we can make the July timeframe,” Thorpe added.

Questions for City Attorney

Questions were sent Wednesday morning to City Attorney Smith asking, if the council is required to approve a cannabis event in the city and/or at the Contra Costa Event Park (fairgrounds). In addition, since Prop. 64 which legalizes recreational marijuana use in California gives councils the authority to deny any and all cannabis businesses in their city, he was asked if that also applies to cannabis events, as they would be commercial activities, with ticket sales and on-site cannabis sales.

According to the Local Government Reference Guide to Prop. 64, under “Land Use: Proposition 64 includes multiple local-control provisions that respect local government police powers to: ban commercial cannabis activity, and regulate businesses through local zoning and land-use requirements, and/or business license requirements within their respective jurisdiction by ordinance. However, no local jurisdiction may ban: the consumption of cannabis within its jurisdiction, the allowance of up to six plants for personal use, or the transportation of cannabis through the jurisdiction.”

Finally, Smith was asked if the state Department of Cannabis Control authorize a temporary cannabis event within the city, such as at a park, even if the council opposed it.

Please check back later for updates to this report.

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