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Costa Mesa Planning Commission approves permit for 24th marijuana business

Costa Mesa Planning Commission approves permit for 24th marijuana business
Costa Mesa planning commissioners voted Monday to award a city conditional use permit for a proposed marijuana product manufacturing facility at 3550 Cadillac Ave. (Daily Pilot)

And then there were two dozen.

With a 4-0 vote from the Costa Mesa Planning Commission on Monday, CR Manufacturing became the 24th cannabis-related business to receive a city-required conditional use permit, clearing one regulatory hurdle in its quest to open a marijuana product manufacturing facility in a 12,236-square-foot industrial building at 3550 Cadillac Ave.

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Commissioner Carla Navarro Woods was absent from the meeting. The panel’s decision is final unless appealed to the City Council within seven days.

CR Manufacturing will operate “nonvolatile manufacturing involving intake of extracted cannabis constituent products ... from licensed cannabis distributors for the production of vape pens or vape pen refill cartridges,” according to a city staff report. The final products will be “stored, third-party-tested, packaged and labeled for distribution by third-party licensed cannabis distributors.”

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Like many marijuana permit proceedings before it, Monday’s hearing attracted scant input from residents and took relatively little time — about 40 minutes.

Only two members of the public spoke on the matter, both questioning whether Costa Mesa is properly equipped to oversee its blossoming cannabis industry.

“I don’t think we’re ready for this,” said resident Ann Parker, who regularly attends Planning Commission meetings. “I do not think the city of Costa Mesa has a handle on anything.”

Commissioners, however, said local voters opened their arms to such businesses by approving Measure X, a 2016 ballot measure that allows firms that research, test, process and manufacture some marijuana products to operate in a designated “green zone” north of South Coast Drive and west of Harbor Boulevard.

“I understand the public’s comments; however, the voters of Costa Mesa believe the city is ready for this business or they wouldn’t have voted Measure X in,” said commission Chairman Byron de Arakal. “We’re administering a law and a set of regulations that the voters of Costa Mesa put in place via the ballot box. So we’re fulfilling our responsibilities in that regard.”

Vice Chairman Jeffrey Harlan said requiring conditional use permits enables the city to set and administer ground rules on how cannabis-related businesses can operate, which “provides the protection for our community.”

“It provides that trigger for enforcement and that runs with the land so, even if a property is sold, these conditions still apply,” he said. “So, I’m comfortable that, because of the CUP, that gives us a certain investment in this business, which we would like to see thrive; we certainly don’t want to see them fail. But they are also on notice that they have certain conditions they have to meet.”

CR Manufacturing still needs to secure city finance, building safety and fire prevention approvals to finalize a marijuana business permit and obtain a Costa Mesa business license. State approval also is required.

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