SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (November 30, 2023) – In a dramatic turn of events, the long-awaited decision on the cannabis lounge ordinance in South Lake Tahoe was postponed to the next meeting, leaving citizens disappointed after enduring years of anticipation. The City Council meeting on Tuesday night took an unexpected turn as Mayor Cristi Creegan enforced a strict 10 p.m. cutoff, abruptly concluding the session amidst lingering discussions.
As the clock ticked toward the crucial 10 p.m. mark, Mayor Creegan, adamant about not extending the meeting further, brought the gavel down, signaling an end to the proceedings. Councilmember Tamara Wallace expressed her disappointment, echoing sentiments from the audience, with someone lamenting, “we waited years for this.” The cannabis ordinance, slated as the last agenda item, will now be revisited at the next meeting.
City Attorney Heather Stroud played a pivotal role in presenting two versions of an amendment to the current cannabis ordinance, both addressing outdated provisions related to the Public Safety Ordinance and Clean Indoor Air Ordinance. These amendments are essential for compliance with a forthcoming senate bill effective January 1, 2024, concerning medical marijuana delivery.
The proposed changes eliminate the development agreement requirement for new cannabis permit applicants, citing the obsolescence of such agreements following the passing of Measure G, a gross receipts and cultivation tax on cannabis businesses.
Public Safety Ordinance revisions, under both versions, would permit curbside delivery, a point emphasized by several public commenters advocating for accessibility, especially for mobility-impaired customers. Version one further introduces amendments allowing on-site consumption within state law requirements, including age restrictions, separation from retail areas, and ventilation plans to mitigate potential odor nuisances.
While public sentiment leans toward the establishment of cannabis lounges as legal public spaces, concerns over potential litter from recreational weed and revenue loss to neighboring areas were also raised during the meeting.
Ryan O’Malley, representing Tahoe Wellness Center, expressed the significance of cannabis consumption normalization through lounges, envisioning them as spaces for socializing similar to coffee shops or bars. Despite hopes for a positive vote, the discussion was cut short by the 10 p.m. protocol.
Mayor Creegan addressed the abrupt end on her Facebook page, citing additional time consumed by council deliberations and presentations. She defended the decision to conclude the meeting promptly, emphasizing the need for efficient use of council time to address important business.
While the cannabis lounge decision remains pending, the South Lake Tahoe community awaits a thoughtful resolution on this impactful issue, hoping future deliberations will not be marred by procedural challenges.