Cannabis Businesses

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Poster: Shop Licensed Cannabis Retailers OnlyGet Weedwise!

The California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) has launched a statewide public service campaign, Get #weedwise, encouraging consumers to only purchase cannabis from licensed businesses. Consumers can verify the license status of a cannabis business by visiting CApotcheck.com. [Note: This website is not maintained by the City of Merced and the City is not responsible for its content.]

Revised Commercial Cannabis Business Permit Ordinance

(Effective April 17, 2019)

The City of Merced has recently amended its Commercial Cannabis Business Permit Ordinance, which includes various updates including the addition of a 5th retail/dispensary permit (from the already established list of applicants). The revised Ordinance #2498 will be effective on April 17, 2019. Ordinance #2498 replaces the current Ordinance #2480. Resolution #2019-12 also established the "City's Official List of Schools" in accordance with the City's Cannabis regulations. Copies of the Revised Ordinance and the List of Schools can be downloaded below under the folder entitled "01-Revised Ordinance (Effective April 17, 2019)."

Planning Commission public hearings to consider the 4th (which had previously been under appeal) and 5th retail dispensary permits will likely be heard in late May 2019.


Planning Commission Awards Retail Cannabis Permits

(September 2018)/Appeal Filed on One Application

On September 18 & 19, 2018, the City of Merced Planning Commission held public hearings on the top 4 cannabis dispensary/retail sales applications. After the public hearings, the Planning Commission approved all four applications as follows: 1) "Blue Fire" at 1975 W. Olive Ave; 2) "Green Door" at 811 W. Main St; 3) "Manzanita" at 1594 W. 18th St; and 4) "Harvest of Merced" at 863 W. 15th St. Please note that an appeal was filed on the "Harvest" application, which is on hold until the appeal is decided but the other applicants can move forward with their projects.

The City is still accepting applications for Cannabis Manufacturing, Cultivation, Distribution, and Testing businesses. However, the City will not be processing any more retail applications since the City's ordinance limits those to five. Please see our revised FAQ's for download below along with a new application for the annual renewal process for Commercial Cannabis Business Permits.


City Announces Cannabis Dispensary Application Rankings and Schedules Planning Commission Public Hearings for September 18 & 19, 2018

The City of Merced received 22 complete applications for retail cannabis dispensaries in March 2018. Only four dispensaries may be approved under the City’s cannabis ordinance (this has been changed to five under the revised ordinance--see above). The Planning Commission has already approved 10 cannabis business permits for manufacturing, cultivation, and distribution operations (see below).

A Selection Committee of City Manager Steve Carrigan, Police Chief Chris Goodman and Director of Development Services Scott McBride reviewed the applications and scored them based on criteria established by the City Council. All the proposed business owners were subject to a detailed background check by the Police Department.

A total score of 100 points was possible for each application. Points were awarded based on non-discretionary facts, such as public/neighborhood outreach programs, parking, business hours, previous experience and qualifications of the owners, access to capital, inclusion of certain safety features and local residency. There were 29 points awarded at the discretion of the Selection Committee based on enhanced security measures, community benefits, and other outstanding features above the minimum requirements of the applications.

The total scores of the reviewers were divided by three for an average score. The applications were ranked based on that average score.

The top four applications were scheduled for public hearings before the Planning Commission on September 18 & 19, 2018 (see above).

The scores and rankings are as follows:

Commercial Cannabis Business Permit Applications for Dispensaries Total Score Average Score Ranking
CCBP #18-06R ("Blue Fire") at 1975 W Olive Ave 295 98.333 1
CCBP #18-10R ("Green Door") at 811 W Main St 292 97.333 2
CCBP #18-17R ("Manzanita") at 1594 W 18thSt 289 96.333 3
CCBP #18-14R ("Harvest of Merced") at 863 W 15thSt 285 95.000 4
CCBP #18-21R ("Medallion Wellness") at 808 W 16th St 269 89.667 5
CCBP #18-30R ("Jiva Life") at 1020 W Main St 255 85.000 6
CCBP #18-22R ("7 Fingers Cannabissary") at 1220-30 Martin Luther King Jr Wy 254 84.667 7
CCBP #18-11R ("Merced Pharmers Market") at 1112 W 16th St 246 82.000 8
CCBP #18-29R ("Nourish Health Merced") at 221 W Main St 244 81.333 9
CCBP #18-08R ("Bang Mingo") at 1850 Yosemite Pkwy 240 80.000 10 (Tie)
CCBP #18-05R ("Elev8 Wellness") at 235 W Main St 240 80.000 10 (Tie)
CCBP #18-13R ("Empire Health & Wellness") at 245 W 16th St 224 74.667 12
CCBP #18-09R ("Natural Supplements") at 127 W El Portal Dr 216 72.000 13
CCBP #18-07R ("Gateway Wellness") at 145 Riggs, Ste A 213 71.000 14
CCBP #18-25R ("Valley Pure") at 1180 Olivewood Ave 202 67.333 15
CCBP #18-26R ("Tamcu Investments") at 227 W Main St 201 67.000 16
CCBP #18-23R ("Kings Valley Wellness") at 850 W Main, Ste A 199 66.333 17
CCBP #18-12R ("Merced Healing Center") at 948 W 15thSt 187 62.333 18
CCBP #18-24R ("Earth Source Healing") at 1035 W 14thSt 179 59.667 19
CCBP #18-16R ("Sierra Gold Cannabis Co.") at 35 W 23rdSt 168 56.000 20
CCBP #18-20R ("Veteran Medication 22") at 3317 M St 157 52.333 21 (Tie)
CCBP #18-18R ("Merced Pain Relief") at 946 W Main St 157 52.333 21 (Tie)
The Following application was disqualified:
CCBP #18-15R ("Aleafiate") at 1471 Yosemite Pkwy
213 71.000 DQ

A map of all the cannabis dispensary applications is below.

Cannabis Dispensary Applications Map


Non-Retail Cannabis Applications Approved

(August 2018)

The City of Merced is very pleased to note that the 10 non-retail applications for cannabis businesses (including cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution) were approved by the Planning Commission in August 2018. Detailed information about those applications can be found on the Planning Commission page at the link below for the Planning Commission meetings of August 8 and 22, 2018. A map of the locations is included below.

Planning Commission Staff Reports

Map of Non-Dispensary/Non-Retail Location Application

The City's schedule for considering Cannabis Business Permits is below:

Schedule for Cannabis Applications 2018


Application Update

July 2018

The City received a total of 30 applications for Commercial Cannabis Business Permits (CCBP) during the initial application period (March 5-26, 2018). Those applications include 24 for retail sales/dispensaries (23 of which are combined adult use/medical dispensaries with delivery and 1 medical only with delivery), 2 for cultivation, 2 for manufacturing, and 2 for distribution. (No applications for testing were received.) 4additional applications for non-retail uses were subsequently received--1 for cultivation, 2 for distribution, and 1 for manufacturing, bringing the total up to 34. After checking all the applications for completeness and Phase I requirements, all but 1 application passed and moved onto Phase II, bringing the total to 33 with 10being non-retail and 23 being retail.

Please note that CCBP's for retail sales/dispensaries are limited to only 4 per the City's Ordinance. Therefore, the City expects to award those 4 retail sales permits from the 24 initial applications received, so it is likely that any dispensary applications received after 3/26/18 will remain on a Waiting List indefinitely. Since there is no limit on the number of cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, or testing CCBP's., the City will continue to accept applications for those uses and they will be processed as time permits after the 10 applications above for other uses are processed.

Phase 2 involves detailed background checks of all owners for all applications and review by the City's Selection Committee of retail sales/dispensaries to determine the top 4 candidates to move onto Planning Commission public hearings. For all other uses, Phase 2 will involve the detailed background checks prior to being scheduled for Planning Commission public hearings.


Cannabis Location Web Mapping Tool Now Available

The City of Merced is excited to launch our Cannabis Location Web Mapping Tool! This tool will help you determine if a particular site is suitable for a cannabis business. By typing in the street address, you will be able to see what the General Plan and Zoning Designations are, if the site is near a sensitive use (i.e., schools, daycare centers, youth centers, etc.), and link to the Cannabis Business Land Use Table to determine if the site is eligible for a cannabis business. Please visit this site and use this tool prior to contacting the City to determine if a site is eligible.

Also, please note the following disclaimer:

"Use of this online tool is intended for informational purposes and is not binding confirmation that a property complies with any or all aspects of the City of Merced’s requirements to obtain a Commercial Cannabis Business Permit. Determinations of zoning compliance, distance from sensitive uses, and other requirements will be made by the Planning Department of the City of Merced in accordance with the regulations set forth by the Merced City Council in Ordinance 2480. "

The City of Merced does not have jurisdiction over properties outside its City Limits. To avoid confusion, any property that is searched for outside of the Merced City Limits will return no results.

All Properties within 1,000 feet of a school are shown as “Properties with Inappropriate Zoning for Cannabis Activities” at this time. This is because Dispensaries/Retail Sales are impermissible at this distance. However, some other Cannabis Activities are permissible so long as they are not within 600 feet of a school. This may mean that another Cannabis Activity (Manufacturing, Testing, Cultivation or Distribution) may still be appropriate based on distance from other sensitive uses and the information in Table 20.44-1, Commercial Cannabis Business, from the Merced Cannabis Ordinance 2480.

For any questions regarding this web application, the information contained herein, or regarding the Commercial Cannabis Business permit application process, please contact the City of Merced’s Planning Department at planningweb@cityofmerced.org, by calling 209-385-6858, or in-person on the 2nd Floor of the Merced Civic Center at 678 West 18th Street, Merced, CA 95340 between the hours of 10AM to Noon and 1PM to 5PM Monday through Friday.


Merced Will Begin Accepting Applications for Commercial Cannabis Business Permits - NOW CLOSED!

(March 5-26, 2018)

The City of Merced is pleased to announce that the initial application period for Commercial Cannabis Business Permits will be from Monday, March 5, 2018 through Monday, March 26, 2018. Please see the flyer below for details. THE INITIAL APPLICATION PERIOD IS NOW CLOSED!

Application forms are available for download below in the folder entitled "Application Forms and Schedules." (Please note that the applications were revised on 1/31/18 in order to include the Environmental Review Checklist, which needs to be submitted with the application. The environmental application fee for a "Categorical Exemption" is $123 in 2018 and will apply to most applications. However, if new construction is involved with your application, please contact Planning Staff to determine the appropriate level of environmental review.)

If you would like to request a pre-application meeting with City Staff, please download the form from the January 26 workshop below and submit it to the Planning Division at planningweb@cityofmerced.org

Commercial Cannabis Business Permits Application Submittal Dates flyer


Application Workshop

(January 26, 2018)

On Friday, January 26, 2018, the City held a workshop to discuss the application process for Commercial Cannabis Business Permits. The City was very pleased with the turnout of over 130 people interested in our application process. The schedule for submitting applications, the application forms, and maps for determining the distance from sensitive land uses were presented at the workshop. For a copy of the presentation and handouts from the workshop, please see the folder entitled "January 26, 2018 Application Workshop Materials" below.

A web-based application for determining the distance from sensitive land uses will be coming soon...keep checking this page for information on the web-based tool. In the meantime, we have found some errors in the maps that were displayed at the January 26 workshop so they have been removed from the website. When the maps are back up, please note the following disclaimer: "These cannabis maps were prepared for general inquiries only. The City of Merced is not liable for any errors or omissions that may occur. Official information for specific parcels or addresses should be obtained from the City Planning Division by sending the location to planningweb@cityofmerced.org."


City Council Approves the Cannabis Ordinance

(Effective on January 3, 2018)

On November 20, 2017, the City Council held a public hearing on the proposed Cannabis Ordinance. After the public hearing and discussing all the issues, the City Council, by a 5-2 (5 ayes, 2 noes) vote, introduced Ordinance #2480 with the following changes: a) allowing dispensaries in the Neighborhood Commercial (C-N) zone; b) allowing dispensaries in the Light Industrial (I-L) zones; c) allowing volatile manufacturing in the Light Industrial (I-L) zone; d) allowing adult use dispensaries in the Commercial Office (C-O) zone; and, e) adding some language regarding the "Watson Advisement" regarding driving under the influence to the required signs to be posted in dispensaries. The Ordinance was revised and came back to the City Council for a second reading/adoption on December 4, 2017. That night, Ordinance #2480 was adopted and became effective 30 days later on January 3, 2018. Various documents relating to the Cannabis Ordinance can be downloaded below, including the adopted Ordinance. Ordinance #2480 replaced Ordinance #2464, adopted in 2016.

At its December 18, 2017, meeting, the City Council held a public hearing and considered adoption of a resolution to establish application fees for Commercial Cannabis Business Permits as well as annual regulatory fees for monitoring and enforcement. After the public hearing, the City Council adopted Resolution #2017-67 by a 7-0 vote. Supporting documents are available for download below.

On January 16, 2018, the City Council adopted the Merit-Based Selection Criteria for Dispensaries/Retail Sales. The final Merit-Based Criteria, adopted Resolution, City Council reports, and presentations are available for download below.


Planning Commission Public Hearings

(October/November 2017)

A study session was held by the Planning Commission on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, regarding the Draft Ordinance regarding Cannabis Businesses in Merced. A public hearing before the Planning Commission was held on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, but due some technical issues with the appointment of one of our Planning Commissioners, the public hearing was rescheduled for Wednesday, November 8, 2017, for the Planning Commission to make a recommendation to the City Council on the Draft Ordinance. After the public hearing, the Planning Commission recommended to the City Council by at 5-1-1 (5 ayes, 1 no, 1 abstain) vote to approve the Ordinance as proposed with the addition of dispensaries in the Light Industrial (I-L) zone.


Community Outreach

A number of public meetings have been held thus far to give input into the process of developing an ordinance and selection process for future medical marijuana businesses in the City. A study session on Proposition 64 was held for the City Council on April 17, 2017 (presentation available for download below). A Community Outreach meeting on medical marijuana issues in the City was held on May 9, 2017 (presentation and flyer available for download below). A study session with the Planning Commission and City Council was held on July 5, 2017 (presentation is available for download below). A second Stakeholder and Community meeting was held on July 12, 2017 (flyer and presentation available for download below).

A Study Session with the City Council and Planning Commission was held on September 12, 2017. See below to download a copy of the agenda packet, which included a DRAFT ordinance (since revised, please refer to the November 8 Planning Commission packet), as well as the presentation. The City Council and Planning Commission gave staff direction for modifications to the ordinance which would allow more commercial cannabis businesses in the City, including commercial cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and adult use dispensaries/retail sales as well as the medical dispensaries.


Preparation of Operating and Licensing Regulations for Cannabis Dispensaries

In February 2017, the City of Merced hired SCI Consulting, Inc., to assist the City with the preparation of the operating and licensing regulations for the medical marijuana dispensaries.

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