Port Hueneme to weigh changes to cannabis rules to help struggling dispensaries

Port Hueneme is poised to update regulations of the city's cannabis businesses to aid the struggling industry.

The City Council will take an initial vote on Tuesday to implement three strategies aimed at helping local cannabis businesses stay competitive as more dispensaries open throughout Ventura County.

The changes would:

  • allow free-standing cannabis consumption lounges

  • expand hours of operations

  • make it easier for dispensaries to host some onsite events

Tony Stewart, the city’s community development director, said at a November council meeting local cannabis businesses were prospering until about a year prior. Since then, revenues have been stagnant or falling.

Current city code allows dispensaries to operate consumption lounges, but they have to be attached to the business. Because most occupy small buildings and lack the space to expand, the dispensaries can’t open lounges, staff said in a report.

The proposed changes would allow the businesses to open lounges elsewhere in the city.

The city could also expand the dispensaries’ hours of operation by two hours. The businesses would be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. The extra hours could result in more purchases, staff said.

The city would also allow dispensaries to host two small events per month without a special-use permit. City staff said such events could include a food truck outside the business or a pop-up canopy for a vendor. The businesses would still have to notify the city of the events.

By rolling back requirements, city staff said dispensaries could host more gatherings to draw in customers.

The City Council will vote on the proposed changes at their Tuesday meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall.

Brian J. Varela covers Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Camarillo. He can be reached at brian.varela@vcstar.com or 805-477-8014. You can also find him on Twitter @BrianVarela805.

This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Hueneme to review cannabis rules to help dispensaries