Bishop Planning Commission Gets Back into The Weed

City of Bishop Planning Commission takes a second run at Commercial Cannabis with city limits

Bishop’s Planning Commission finished a lengthy second review of a draft commercial cannabis ordinance this past week. The review focused on changes requested at the Commission’s February meeting. Now it will be up to the City Council to decide if it’s ready to join all the other Eastern Sierra entities and allow pot shops and delivery services within its city limits.

While the Commission members weren’t in total agreement on all of the suggested changes, Chair Erik Leitch’s attitude was to include those elements the majority of the Commission supported and get it to the Council for the final decision. When put to a vote, the draft ordinance passed unanimously.

One of the hang-ups from last month’s meeting was a request to see an overlay of the 1.9-square mile city with commercial cannabis prohibitions identified. No pot operations are allowed within 600-feet of churches, any park managed by the City, schools or day-care facilities leaving only a portion of the retail and commercial zoning in the downtown corridor open to cannabis businesses.

Commission member Heather Lind wanted to keep pot shops out of the designated downtown revitalization zone which would have really limited where a business could legally operate. That effort was quashed with a 5-2 vote.

Another snag the Council will have to figure out: flavored products. Commissioner Patricia Lew wanted those limited in any commercial operation. But, since a lot of the product, particularly edibles, available for sale are definitely flavored, that decision wasn’t made by the Commission. Leitch pointed out the issue with “flavored products” was related more to vaping. Any argument that flavors would be appealing to minors was allayed by the fact commercial pot shops, like bars, will be off limits for those under 21.

Some of the lesser issues included confidentiality of an operation’s sales records the City will audit. Also, the requirement of a “uniformed security guard” on the premises was considered onerous by some Commissioners. However, an existing employee could be certified by the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. That qualifier kept the requirement in the ordinance.

The ordinance also gives the City the right to seize samples, an inclusion two of the Commissioners felt was redundant since California law regulates quality and accuracy of THC/CBD levels. That wording, however, stayed in.

Local ordinances cannot be more lenient than state or federal law; they can only be tougher. In some cases, the Commission agreed to include regulations that mirrored the California cannabis laws. The reason: that would allow Bishop’s police department to enforce those laws on the assumption the feds or California law enforcement probably wouldn’t be eager to raid a local pot shop.

The Commission compromised on a request by Lew to post a health warning similar to those posted for cigarette sales. That statement will stay in but only as a recommendation. “No one could identify any scientific consensus about the health effects of cannabis, or consensus language about it from any official body, like the Surgeon General,” Leitch explained in an e-mail.

The next step in the journey of Bishop’s cannabis business ordinance will be at a future City Council meeting.

The draft ordinance discussed at the Commission meeting is available at MetaViewer.php ( (Ctrl and click to go to the document). But, the document does not reflect the changes requested by the Planning Commission.


11 Responses to Bishop Planning Commission Gets Back into The Weed

  1. Jubie March 30, 2021 at 3:30 pm #

    Ummm. .. yeah…., but alcohol does the same or similar thing (science!) and there is plenty of liquor to be purchased around. There will always be adolescents who abuse both. Let’s take a sensible look at the big picture here. Why the stigma on cannabis leaves me scratching my head. This is a great revenue maker for the city.

    • Ben March 31, 2021 at 7:43 am #

      I think all three are equally damaging. In different ways. I support legalization and responsibility for all three. Cannabis doesn’t get a special treatment as far as I am concerned, it is just as responsible for damage and trauma, simply in different ways. The logic of this is bad and this is bad so this is ok if it is bad too leads in a downward social health trend overall. Apples and oranges do no negate each other. Maybe we shift the paradigm and look at how we can get all three away from youth instead of adding a third to an already stacked deck for kids.

      • Pine March 31, 2021 at 6:25 pm #

        While I agree with all your points Ben, the issue at hand is that no one under 21 will be able to purchase said substances, be them alcohol, tobacco, or cannabis. Will that keep it out of their hands? It will for some, and that’s about as best as we can do.

        All I know is that prohibition is the worst way to go about drugs.

        • Ben April 2, 2021 at 5:58 am #

          I am not advocating for prohibition. If you read my statement again, it says I support the legalization of all three. It also says I support taking responsibility for that legalization. A large part of which is implementing prevention programs alongside legalization. People tend to consistently state, as both of you have, that cannabis is relatively harmless. That is completely false. Part of our responsibility that comes with said legalization is in telling the truth, as we do with alcohol and tobacco, of the dangers proven to be associated with cannabis so that people, especially youth, can make informed choices. I have presented proven facts as information. You are creating an argument that isn’t there.

          • Ben April 2, 2021 at 6:29 am #

            It is economics 101 really. We aren’t a totally anarchy based free market where business and money make all the rules. The way we typically do this in our hybrid free market/command economy is through the implementation of regulations and controls. I mentioned one, prevention. There are many other aspects, such as enforcement. The City needs to consider all aspects of the local community in this decision by considering a holistic approach. Elimination is the nuclear approach, as you called it – prohibition. Typically in the modern economy we use lower level controls such as administrative and engineering. IE, 21 to buy and certain distance restrictions for use and sale from public areas. The concept of detection, correction and prevention are also relevant. Using your example, tobacco and alcohol, the bill for all three is paid by the seller due to the nature of the substance via taxation and other means. That is my point. In order to maintain a fair free market, regulation is necesary just as much as prevention and the business selling the damaging good needs to be held responsible for paying for that socio economic equality exchange. In short, if the City or any government entity, decides to legalize, it simultaneously needs to consider methods for funding programs for detection, prevention and correction controls. To say it is a net gain for the City is also false. Unless they force the cannabis seller to pay for those controls.

          • Ben April 2, 2021 at 6:56 am #

            The other businesses in the local economy also need to consider their own risk management and be considered with regard to implications. It reaches further than parks, schools and churches which are pretty obvious. For example, if a bar or cannabis shop is opened next to a theater or restaurant I am 100% less likely to take my child to a movie and meal while the bar or cannabis shop is operating. Other businesses stand to lose portions of revenue or their entire market in the local economy depending on the good or service they sell. Even today, it does well for government authorities and business owners to consider the long term impacts because believe it or not, a large portion of society does not like cannabis use still, even if we do support their freedom.

  2. Ben March 28, 2021 at 6:35 am #

    “Cannabis use has been shown to impair cognitive functions on a number of levels—from basic motor coordination to more complex executive function tasks, such as the ability to plan, organize, solve problems, make decisions, remember, and control emotions and behavior.”


    • Ben March 28, 2021 at 6:40 am #

      “Adolescents who started smoking between the ages of 14–22 years old and stopped by age 22 had significantly more cognitive problems at age 27 than their non-using peers (Brook et al., 2008). In addition, adult cannabis users who began smoking before the age of 17, but not users who began smoking after the age of 17, had significant impairments in measures of executive functioning, including abstract reasoning, verbal fluency, and verbal learning and memory compared to non-using controls (Pope et al., 2003).”

      • Pine March 30, 2021 at 6:25 pm #


        Alcohol and Tobacco kill hundreds of thousands of people every year.

        I appreciate your dedication to science, but don’t forget that cannabis is just another drop in the bucket when it comes to social issues regarding drug use.

        CDC states, “During 2011–2015 in the United States, an average of 95,158 alcohol-attributable deaths occurred”

        CDC reports, “More than 480,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke)” regarding tobacco use.

        No doubt there will need to be further studies on cannabis use and mortality. The fact is, no one dies from immediate cannabis use, and no one dies from cannabis withdrawals. The exact opposite is true for alcohol.

        We need to change our view of drugs, and we need to get people help who need help. Cannabis is not the scourge of our society that the man has made you believe.

        • Ben March 31, 2021 at 7:40 am #

          I don’t disagree completely. You make a lot of assumptions though, while cannabis isn’t involved directly it is very indirectly involved in a lot of trauma and death. The same is also true for alcohol and tobacco, but the logic of two other things are bad so this is less bad doesn’t exactly carry weight. Maybe we set the bar higher instead if constantly setting it lower?

        • Ben March 31, 2021 at 7:59 am #

          Also, “the man” has not made me believe anything. I don’t endorse magical thinking where a wizard behind a dark curtain controls my life experiences. I live and learn on my own terms and follow science and clear headed intuition based on data driven relationships to draw potential conclusions that are weighted with percentages of probability. My personal experience also plays a role. I have used cannabis and known many who do as close friends. I also have not used cannabis for part of my life so have a contrasting experience based in reality and seen the same in a separate group of friends. The data and science backs my own observations, I have no need to make up a boogy man to back my points.

          Some points to clear up your assumptions:

          1. Cannabis is not alcohol
          2. Cannabis is not tobacco
          3. Economics is only one piece of the social structure
          4. Individual and societal health are not always equal
          5. Substances that impact cognition also impact every other aspect of our life and behavior
          6. Youth especially are far more susceptible to physically dangerous substances when under the influence of substances that alter cognitive and executive thinking ability
          7. Direct physical trauma is not the only negative impact associated with substance abuse
          8. The other long term mental trauma can be far more damaging over time than the immediate physical trauma
          9. Trauma can be measured in missed opportunities for growth as well as physical and mental damages
          10. Society as a whole benefits from an upward trend in cognitive behavior over time


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