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Local Cannabis Policy Implementation Services

Since 2014, SCI Consulting Group has provided consulting services in support of local medicinal and adult-use cannabis policy. SCI has emerged as one of the primary consulting firms providing comprehensive local cannabis policy services in California.

Cannabis-Related Public Education, Input and Opinion Surveys, and Stakeholder/Community Meetings

SCI has considerable expertise in organizing and managing stakeholder and public outreach meetings, including for agencies considering allowing regulated commercial cannabis businesses. SCI plans, coordinates, develops materials for, and participates in community meetings and commission, committee and council meetings, hosting an interactive (typically three hours) Power-Point presentation on local cannabis policy called Cannabis 101 as needed. SCI has conducted Cannabis 101 presentations in many cities and counties throughout the State.

Local Health and Safety Policies, Regulations and Ordinances

Drafting a Health and Safety Regulatory Ordinance(s) is one of the most important tasks in the regulated commercial cannabis businesses implementation process. After SCI works with municipality staff, stakeholders and the community to understand the goals and priorities of local cannabis policies, we will present options and advise the municipality regarding the best strategies for the content of the ordinance, as well as key components of timing and development shepherding the proposed ordinance(s) through the public approval process.

In addition to establishing land use and operating criteria, the regulations must ensure compliance with all State regulations, reflect local preferences, be flexible enough to adapt to the dynamic aspects of this unique industry, and lay the foundation for monitoring and compliance activities so that appropriate regulatory fees can be calculated.

Application Review and Selection of Optimal Cannabis Businesses

The selection process is typically the most onerous and difficult portion of a successful municipal cannabis implementation, especially pertaining to a competitive process for a finite number of licenses. Our goal is to provide the municipality with a fair model of selection that favors community safety, longevity and sustainability. We will develop locally-customized application packages and forms, instruction sheets, flow diagrams, scoring matrices, etc. and clearly detail all conditions required of the applicant. SCI has set up several successful selection processes which currently are being utilized by California municipalities.

SCI can also actively implement the selection process to identify the optimal licensees for municipalities, based upon the process and criteria. SCI thoroughly reviews and evaluates, and scores if appropriate, all assigned applications, and documents all findings; and is currently providing these services for several cities in California.

Regulatory Fees for Full Cost Recovery of Agency Cannabis-Related Costs

Full cost recovery is appropriate for all city/county resources, including consultant fees, for the implementation of regulated commercial cannabis business activities. SCI will provide engineering services in developing support analysis for the fees. The goal is to establish a reliable, robust cannabis fee structure that is supported by the community and the local cannabis industry, is Proposition 26 justifiable, and adheres to all State and local regulations.

Cannabis-Related Local Tax Measures

SCI works with municipalities to develop comprehensive revenue plans based upon a voter-approved cannabis-related general or special tax including planning, tax rate engineering, tax measure administration and preparation of legally required documents and community outreach.

Our revenue approach is designed to analyze the opportunities in each of the desired license type categories, and we will propose the optimal combination of taxes based upon factors like gross receipts, per square foot taxes, and weight-based taxes with the goal of eliminating the black market

SCI assists with the preparation of the draft election resolution, ballot question, full ballot text, and election materials while coordinating with the local County Elections Department.

Clear, concise and appropriate informational outreach is one of the most important elements for a successful cannabis tax ballot outcome. If the community is adequately informed about the issues, a municipality’s proposed special tax measure will have a good chance for a successful outcome. The unparalleled track record of success for SCI is, in large part, due to our extensive expertise in this area.

Annual Monitoring and Compliance Activities

SCI is available at a municipality’s request to conduct monitoring and compliance of commercial cannabis activities. Roles and responsibilities are assigned by the most efficient method to conduct them. In addition to regular and in-person onsite inspections, SCI maintains a state-of-the-art service center that can monitor facilities remotely and manage inbound and outbound calling as needed. The current legal and political landscape regarding the health and safety regulation of cannabis is still dynamic, so we will advise on a compliance policy with an eye towards built-in flexibility. Our cannabis compliance work allows a municipality to begin compliance at any time, to conclude compliance at any time, and to transition compliance activities to municipality staff at their discretion.

Case Studies

City of Merced

Local Cannabis Policy Implementation

Since 2014, SCI Consulting Group has provided consulting services in support of local medicinal and adult-use cannabis policy. SCI has emerged as one of the leading consulting firms providing comprehensive local cannabis policy services in California.

Beginning in 2017, SCI was engaged by the City of Merced to provide consulting services in support of the implementation of regulated commercial cannabis businesses within the City. Interaction with City staff, elected officials, community leaders, and other stakeholders made it clear that an implementation process was needed that emphasized strict health and safety regulations, viable patient and adult access, and sustainable commerce in support of increased tax revenue.

SCI staff worked closely with City of Merced staff over the 18-month implementation providing a complete suite of local cannabis policy services. These services include cannabis-related public education and stakeholder/community meetings; local health and safety policies and regulations manifested as city ordinances; design of the merit-based application review and selection process for optimal cannabis businesses; development of a regulatory fee program; comprehensive support for the City’s cannabis-related local tax measure, and guidance for annual monitoring and compliance.

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