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Monterey County Board of Supervisors discussing legalizing cannabis lounges

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV) On Tuesday, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors discussed whether to legalize cannabis lounges throughout unincorporated Monterey County.

The Board of Supervisors received a presentation from Monterey County Cannabis Program Director Joann Iwamoto who presented the pros and cons of bringing cannabis lounges to Monterey County.

Majority of the supervisors are in support of bringing lounges to Monterey County. However, some were concerned about staffing capacity on the county level to regulate more cannabis related business ventures.

District 2 Supervisor Glenn Church who represents Castroville and Aromas said that he does not want all the lounges to be in one location

"I don't want our motto to be Come to North County if you wanna get high," Church said.

Iwanmoto said that lounges wouldn't be able to sell alcohol, tobacco or non-cannabis goods. Customers would have to purchase the cannabis on site and cannot bring their own cannabis.

During her presentation, Iwanmoto spoke on what other jurisdictions throughout the state on licensing cannabis lounges with different type of regulations.

An example she spoke on was a regulation in San Francisco which prohibits lounge operators from requiring employees to work where cannabis is being smoked.

There are currently nine cannabis retailers in Monterey County. Six of those locations are in northern Monterey County while three of those are in Carmel Valley.

Iwanmoto also spoke on a state law that was proposed by 17th District Assemblyman Matt Haney. If AB-374 passes, it could enable cities to permit sale of non cannabis infused food and beverages. The law would also let cannabis operators open cannabis cafes with this law.

The law could be heard by the state's business and professions committee in the next couple of weeks.

District 3 Supervisor Mary Adams said if cannabis lounges were to become legal, it could benefit Monterey County.

"I so worry about the complete collapse of our cannabis industry in the county," Adams said. "To give them this additional opportunity would be beneficial for the county and the industry."

The Board of Supervisors directed the Cannabis Program Monterey County to continue their research and and return with a proposed ordinance on March 14.

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Derrick Ow

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