MONTEREY — Elected officials in Monterey will revisit the debate over joining most of the rest of the Peninsula in allowing cannabis dispensaries in the city. Citing sales-tax revenue being siphoned off to other cities, council members this week voted 4-1 to place it on a meeting agenda as soon as September.
Councilman Alan Haffa, who requested that the council consider the topic, said that roughly seven in 10 voters in Monterey supported the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in 2016. In the past, Haffa said, the council has taken a wait-and-see approach.
“In the interim, we’ve seen Del Rey Oaks open a successful dispensary; Seaside opened a number of dispensaries; we’ve seen a dispensary in The Barnyard in Carmel and recently Marina has moved forward,” he said.
Hard data on the economic impact legal dispensaries would have in Monterey is nonexistent, but tax revenue in the unincorporated areas of Monterey County generated $11.3 million after growers brought in $450 million in sales, according to county data.
“The impact of COVID-19 highlights the need for diversity in our business sector, and despite our best efforts we will be seeing empty storefronts in the near future,” Haffa said. “It can increase jobs and business opportunities, as well as generating city revenue we are sorely in need of.”
Councilman Dan Albert, who voted to place on a future agenda the current moratorium on cannabis, said he believes the council should at least have the discussion since it is a different council than when it was first brought up.
“I would like to see a staff analysis on where we would propose to have the businesses and what restrictions would be in place and would it be medicinal or recreational?” Albert said. “It’s a valuable thing to at least discuss.”