Chapter 7.136


7.136.010    Purpose.

7.136.030    Definitions.

7.136.050    Creation of the Cannabis Equity Program.

7.136.070    Eligibility criteria.

7.136.090    Equity Program benefits.

7.136.110    Severability.

7.136.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide local guidelines for administering a Cannabis Equity Program in the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County.

It is also the purpose of this chapter to mitigate the barriers to equity within the commercial cannabis marketplace for populations that were negatively or disproportionately impacted by cannabis criminalization and for pursuing aid from compassionate cannabis care programs.

This chapter is not intended to conflict with Federal or State law. It is the intention of the County that this chapter be interpreted to be compatible with Federal and State enactments and in furtherance of the public purposes that those enactments encompass. [Ord. 5292 § 1, 2019].

7.136.030 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:

(A)    “Applicant” means the person or entity submitting an application for eligibility to participate in the Equity Program.

(B)    “Cannabis” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa Linnaeus, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis, as defined under Business and Professions Code Section 19300(5)(f), as may be amended.

(C)    “Commercial cannabis business” means a cannabis cultivation, distribution, manufacturing or retail business located in the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County.

(D)    “Equity Program” means the Cannabis Equity Program created by this chapter.

(E)    “License” means the written evidence of permission given by the Licensing Official for a licensee to operate a commercial cannabis business. “License” does not mean “permit” within the meaning of the Permit Streamlining Act, and a license does not constitute a permit that runs with the land on which a dispensary sits.

(F)    “Licensee” means the person or entity holding a valid license to operate a commercial cannabis business under this chapter.

(G)    “Licensing Official” means the official appointed by the County Administrative Officer who is responsible for implementing the provisions of this chapter. [Ord. 5292 § 1, 2019].

7.136.050 Creation of the Cannabis Equity Program.

(A)    There is hereby created the Cannabis Equity Program. The program shall be operated by the Licensing Official.

(B)    The Licensing Official shall take the necessary steps to build and manage the program. This includes, but is not limited to, accomplishing the following tasks in compliance with the rules set forth in this chapter:

(1)    Creating application forms for businesses;

(2)    Approving and denying program applications;

(3)    Creating and conducting workshops for applicants on various technical aspects of regulatory compliance;

(4)    Establishing methods to provide direct technical assistance to applicants and licensees;

(5)    Creating a system to administer fee waivers for cannabis-related use permits and business licenses;

(6)    Creating a system to provide direct assistance in paying State regulatory and licensing fees for program participants;

(7)    Assisting applicants and licensees securing business locations prior to or during the use permit and cannabis business license process;

(8)    Establishing and/or recommending the adoption of any policies, procedures, rules, or regulations necessary to implement the program; and

(9)    Working with other officials in the County to ensure that applicants and licensees comply with all aspects of the County Code. [Ord. 5292 § 1, 2019].

7.136.070 Eligibility criteria.

(A)    Eligibility for the program is limited to owners of commercial cannabis businesses who can demonstrate that they, their employees, or their customers have been negatively impacted in a disproportionate way by cannabis criminalization and who can further demonstrate what they have done and will do to address those negative impacts, including but not limited to supporting compassionate care programs within the community.

(B)    For purposes of this section, “compassionate care programs” include, but are not limited to:

(1)    Programs which provide free or discounted cannabis to medical cannabis patients and primary caregivers; and/or

(2)    Programs which provide palliative and/or end-of-life care for medical cannabis patients. [Ord. 5292 § 1, 2019].

7.136.090 Equity Program benefits.

Assistance programs for Equity Program licensees will include:

(A)    Workshops to gain a better understanding of various technical aspects of compliance with local and State regulations;

(B)    Direct technical assistance with State and local licensing issues, including but not limited to:

(1)    Assistance with technical aspects of local permit application drafting;

(2)    Training on and direct assistance in applying for Air District permits, hazardous materials business permits, State Water Board permits and other permits and programs to be identified by the Licensing Official;

(C)    Fee waivers for use permits and cannabis business licenses;

(D)    Direct assistance paying for State licensing and regulatory fees; and

(E)    Assistance from the County Economic Development Department with securing business locations prior to or during the use permit and cannabis business license process. [Ord. 5292 § 1, 2019].

7.136.110 Severability.

If any section, subdivision, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of the ordinance codified in this chapter is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, such a decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portion of the ordinance. The Board of Supervisors hereby declares that it would have passed each section, subsection, subdivision, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of the ordinance codified in this chapter irrespective of the unconstitutionality or invalidity of any other section, subdivision, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of the ordinance codified in this chapter. [Ord. 5292 § 1, 2019].