Planning Commission Weighs Draft Rules on Medical Marijuana Businesses

New regulations that would allow a very specific type of marijuana business to begin operating in Beverly Hills were among the items discussed during a meeting of the Beverly Hills Planning Commission on Aug. 24.

Current ordinances prohibit any type of marijuana business from setting up shop in Beverly Hills. State-licensed companies that deliver medical cannabis can serve patients in the city, but they aren’t allowed to have offices, keep inventory or otherwise operate within its boundaries. That is scheduled to change at the start of 2024, following the passage of SB 1186. The Medicinal Cannabis Patients’ Right of Access Act was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last September and will prevent local governments from directly or indirectly preventing the establishment of medical marijuana delivery businesses.

City governments will still have discretion to regulate those businesses, however. The Planning Commission examined and recommended suggested rules at the Aug. 24 Meeting.

Draft regulations presented to the commission provide that medical marijuana delivery companies would only be allowed in the Business Triangle. They would not be allowed on the first floor of buildings or within 600 feet of schools, parks, libraries and other sensitive locations. Businesses would also be prohibited from displaying logos outside of their offices or on any of their vehicles that make it obvious that they are keeping large quantities of marijuana. The purpose of that rule is to avoid attracting potential criminals who might try to target medical marijuana stores in the city, Beverly Hills Municipal Affairs Program Manager Cindy Owens told commissioners Thursday.

“We just don’t want people to know it’s there so we don’t have crime,” Owens said. Chair Gary Ross brought up the possibility of expanding that rule to explicitly prevent cannabis distributors from displaying logos in other public spaces like parking lots. However, other members of the commission and city staff said such restrictions could unfairly impede those companies’ ability to advertise.
Commissioners acknowledged that “gray areas” in the proposed rules for marijuana delivery companies may need to be worked out before they officially go on the books. However, they found that the draft regulations laid a solid foundation and recommended them for consideration by the City Council.

“I, personally, would not be too concerned about something that might be in a gray area like the regulation of the name,” Commissioner Peter Ostroff said. “Because to me, I think you’ve done it well. And I would leave it be if someone wanted to challenge something as being too aggressive, that’s ok with me and we’ll deal with it at that time.”

Another item brought up during the meeting was the recurring renewal of a conditional use permit allowing the Peninsula Beverly Hills to host live music outdoors until midnight during regular business days and as late as 2 a.m. on Fridays and holidays. That arrangement was first approved in 2014, and the business has had to request a renewal every two years. At the hearing, representatives of the hotel asked the city to lift the need for renewal. However, commissioners instead offered to consider expanding the period between approvals to five years. All involved parties will reconvene on the matter Oct. 26.

The third point of business was an application for a permit to set up a Rolls Royce and O’Gara Coach vehicle showroom at 9460 Wilshire Blvd. The proposal would allow the dealership to move into a building that has remained vacant for an extended period. That could revitalize what has become a somewhat dormant corner of the city, Murray D. Fischer, an attorney for the dealership, said at the hearing. Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve permitting for the new showroom. Vice Chair Terr Kaplan recused herself from the issue because she owns property within 500 feet of the proposed renovation site.