Bishop Planning Commission Gets a Look at Commercial Cannabis Ordinance

Commercial Cannabis business is as much about tax revenue to local governments than about whether it is right or wrong for a community… much like tobacco shops or liquor stores

The Bishop City Council’s four-year history with commercial cannabis operations may take a different turn in the near future. Wednesday evening, the city’s Planning Commission got its first look at a draft ordinance. While the Commission didn’t give the draft the go-ahead, it did ask for more information from staff and a second run at a revised ordinance at next month’s meeting.

The thaw in the anti-cannabis iceberg came last October when the previous 3-2 vote against any consideration of recreational cannabis within the city limits turned to a 3-2 vote to explore the possibility with a draft set of regulations.

Bishop has remained the single government entity in Inyo and Mono counties with a ban on commercial, or non-medical, cannabis operations. While there are cannabis businesses in “Bishop,” they lie outside the city limits and are processed through Inyo County regulations.

So, what would that ordinance look like and what additional issues were brought up at the Commission?

Commissioners made a series of changes and requests, some of which would make the process less onerous, others, more onerous. While some commissioners wanted specific language regarding names and signage, it was pointed out that could be stepping on First Amendment rights. Also, the age limit was raised from 18 (the age for medical marijuana businesses) to 21.

Whether for medicinal or recreational purposes, legal marijuana use has become big business and legal, and largely accepted in most communities.

Commissioner Heather Lind wanted to see an overlay of the area of downtown Bishop included in the revitalization effort. Her take: pot shops didn’t exactly fit into the concept of revitalization. The question, though, was how much of the C-1 and C-2 zones would be left for potential cannabis operations.

In addition, Chair Erik Leitch wanted to strike what he defined as “excessively restrictive and unenforceable.” “To my mind,” he stated via e-mail, “this is overreach, telling businesses how they must implement compliance, rather than what they must comply with.”

In a nutshell, the ordinance presented at the meeting included the following:

  • The State law requires cannabis businesses to be 600-feet away from any school. That’s a given but also a limiting factor in small city.
  • A development agreement must be approved by the City. That agreement would be similar to a Conditional Use Permit outlining façade, signage, security, etc.
  • Two storefront retailers would be allowed in C-1 (general commercial and retail) and C-2 (general commercial) zoning. While the ordinance as written only addresses storefront and delivery businesses, there are also regulations allowing other types of activities in case the City chooses to permit those activities.
  • Specific application procedures are outlined, requiring approval from the City Council.
  • Before opening up shop, a Bishop business license, building permits and inspections, certification from the Planning Director the location meets the requirements of the Bishop Municipal Code, a demonstrated right to occupy and use the property, an agreement to indemnify the City, proof of insurance and payment of all costs to the City.
  • Operating restrictions include security, record keeping, odors, business hours (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.), consumption on the premises, sales tracking, background checks on owners and partners and limits on the amount of product displayed.
  • Another requirement: a community relations contact would be available to all businesses and residents within 100-feet of the operation.










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21 Responses to Bishop Planning Commission Gets a Look at Commercial Cannabis Ordinance

  1. Ben February 26, 2021 at 2:18 pm #

    Perhaps the Owen’s Valley and City of Bishop needs to zoom out here and acknowledge that there is a drug and alcohol dependency crisis. Perhaps instead of focusing on how government can profit from said crisis the primary focus should be on prevention and treatment. Just like the homelessness crisis, it doesn’t go away if we slap a football sticker on it and pretend it doesn’t exist. “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Jiddu Krishnamurti

  2. David Dennison February 26, 2021 at 8:50 am #

    How much weed do we need ?
    Simple answer to your question.
    It’s the new “American way”
    Not at all like the not-so-long-ago olden’ days,when people would work hard,do their best and take pride in what they’re doing,making a living for themselves and their families,and going home at night feeling good about a good and hard days work behind them.
    NOW,it seems more like do as little as you can and/or have to,maybe getting into a business feeding off the needs and wants of others,that at times can include addiction and problems for those that do them and their families (and PLEASE don’t try to say marijuana,casinos,etc.can’t become a problem for some,not only financially,but at times causing family problems at home…been there,done that long ago).
    I know people right now having trouble paying their bills and rent, IMACA putting food on their family tables,but funny, seems they always have enough $$$ to buy their weekly $65 or so quarter ounce of pot or more..
    To each his own,if they want to spend their money on marijuana,or if anyone wants to get into what seems to be a booming new business now,but like you say, does a small town like Bishop,or the other small towns in Inyo County really need multiple pot stores ?

    • How much weed do you need? February 26, 2021 at 10:18 am #

      Exactly. As I said, to each their own, but as a long term cannabis user in the past the usual arguments don’t hold water for a minute with me. It is an addictive substance, not on par with hard drugs but it has addictive qualities and does impact society in a subtle but meaningful way. I am not here to preach that though, just that Bishop needs better diversity in the economy that restaurants and pot shops. Those are good, but if covid has taught us nothing else let it be that economic diversity is a good thing for those capable of thinking ahead more than their next joint.

      • Bishop Guy February 27, 2021 at 3:10 pm #

        So, the fact that you had an issue with this plant means it’s “bad”. No, it means YOU could not use marijuana responsibly. Your personal issues are not a useful argument for widespread policy. I have injured myself numerous times on motorcycles. Maybe I should start spreading the word on the evils of OHV’s and ask the city council to limit their numbers for the sake of the community and children? Your thinking is very flawed.

        • David Dennison February 27, 2021 at 6:25 pm #

          Bishop Guy
          YOU tell me how you use it responsibly,when,with pot nowdays,you take two or three hits on a bong,you’re so high you can’t safely drive a vehicle,carry on a conversation,and definatly not able to work a job.
          Because that’s the way it is now,not at all like how it used to be in the 70’s and 80’s,where you could “gauge” how high and intoxicated you wanted to be,and if you chose to,still be able to mentally and physically function.
          Olden’ days,you could smoke an entire joint and still work a job or safely drive a vehicle.
          Try doing that with the potent and high-grade sometimes laced with whatever weed out there now.
          A good example,someone I used to know,he’d talk and say how smoking weed didn’t hurt or bother him,he could do it daily without a problem.
          He’d get up in the morning,daily smoke some weed,tinker with cars,play some video games,maybe take a nap and then carry on into the afternoon and evening.
          Wide awake when his girlfriend got home from working her two jobs,her then cooking dinner and going to bed early so she could get up early to do it all over again the next day.
          But he did find the time on Wednesday morning to “contribute” to the household by heading for the weekly food give away,doing his part to help out with things at home.
          Post script to the story….
          She finally got fed up with the situation,left him,getting her and her young Son away from the chaos…decided to spend her money buying her own home,now has a nice car and money to spend on top of it,without having to babysit a grown man.

        • How much weed do you need? February 28, 2021 at 8:08 am #

          Read the second half of the paragraph genius.

        • How much weed do you need? February 28, 2021 at 8:21 am #

          Science yo! It is bigger than a norml article in the back of high times magazine. You read at the local cannabis shop!

        • How much weed do you need? February 28, 2021 at 8:33 am #

          As far as your OHV argument, you’re wrong. If you want to ride your motorcycle like a moron and risk hurting yourself, be my guest. It is a free country and I am not your mom. I won’t lose any sleep over it. That said, your freedom ends where your fist meets my jaw. Ride your motorcycle like a moron through the city park where my kids play and then there is a problem. I may not be the one with flawed thinking there haus, but read that NIH article about cognitive decline and it all starts to make more sense.

        • Ben March 1, 2021 at 3:44 pm #

          Actually it is bad because it has been medically proven so through scientific research. However valid your point about motorcycles is about individuals it is wrong in the context of communities. Your comparison is actually flawed because it would be more like riding your motorcycle dangerously on a sidewalk or through children’s park in this context. Not injuring yourself.

  3. Jubie February 26, 2021 at 8:44 am #

    Who said anything about 20 pot shops? A house of ill repute? Please- not even legal.
    Yes, more stores means competition which is good for the customer. Also, incredible revenue for the city. I do agree though, that diversity is good for the city and we need to fill all the empty, unsightly buildings.

    • How much weed do you need? February 26, 2021 at 10:11 am #

      I am not buying the competition argument. That isn’t how the cannabis business works in my experience. That said, it doesn’t matter. The other points supercede and still hold true. I know of about 5 shops spread throughout the county off 395 at least already. Multiple in Bishop. Bishop is not large, and that business is just redistributed, the market is full and Bishop is not expanding in population much. The city would do well to expand the diversity portfolio more in my opinion. Pot shops are going to be the kmarts of 2024 if that is all we focus on. Besides, my kids are hanging out downtown, we already have to deal with 5 of 10 neighbors stinking up the block, at least let them play at the dang park with weed everwhere.

      • How much weed do you need? February 26, 2021 at 10:43 am #

        *without weed everywhere

      • How much weed do you need? February 26, 2021 at 10:54 am #

        A quick look reveals at least 4 already operating in the Bishop vicinity, either in the county boundary or the tribe.

  4. desco February 26, 2021 at 7:39 am #

    Do we really need two more pot shops in town? Will not this just dilute the customer base for the existing ones? What next, a house of ill repute? A couple of massage parlors? A Joss house? Google it. Ha ha.

    • How much weed do you need? February 26, 2021 at 10:30 am #

      Hahaha, Joss House. Maybe just ditch the flowers and line main street with Hookahs and Incense burners. May as well go all in and make Bishop weed mecca USA. You can get your Joss on and get laid next door while getting baked in between.

    • Quacque February 26, 2021 at 12:48 pm #

      Yes, you should in fact do the research you recommend. A joss house is a temple, a place of worship: why do you see that as a threat? Maybe you should google ‘biased ignorant assumptions’ or ‘Asians: who are they?’

  5. How much weed do you need? February 26, 2021 at 7:08 am #

    I have nothing against legalizing cannabis, to each their own. Seriously though, how much weed do we need? Does it really serve Bishop well having 20 pot shops within a couple blocks of each other? Seems pretty weird. Can we diversify and thus stabilize our local economy a bit? Is that really the best we can do? Maybe we should be looking as insertions for businesses beyond tourism and marijuana, long term strategic development. Maybe we smoke too much weed to think that far ahead though apparently.

    • four vs twenty February 26, 2021 at 9:57 am #

      Everyone keeps saying 20 shops would be allowed, but the article says it would be limited to two storefronts? Am I missing something?

      • How much weed do you need? February 26, 2021 at 10:55 am #

        Yes. That is city limits. Bishop is bigger than the city boundary. A quick ask and I know of at least 4 operating in Bishop already, either in the county boundary or via the tribe.

      • What a joke February 27, 2021 at 3:50 pm #

        Yes, deluded paranoia is what you’re missing.

        • How much weed do you need? February 28, 2021 at 1:40 pm #

          We are up to at least 5 in the Bishop vicinity by my current count. If you give a mouse a cookie… so yeah, 20 might be an exaggerated number but is it really?


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