Humboldt Considers New Retail Permits for Legal Market: Local Level

By Brittany Morgan Williams

Arcata is the home of Humboldt State University, ferns, redwoods, and featured in several films including the original Star Wars trilogy. Arcata is trying to regain the cannabis tourism that has petered out in recent years. Although there has been very limited media coverage of the steps Arcata has been taking to implement retail recreational cannabis since legalization, I was able to sit down with a member of the Humboldt community who attended the recent City Council Meeting in Arcata. Robert Nichols, a cannabis worker, is a cannabis activist that fights for people’s rights in the cannabis industry. He believes that these new ordinances will benefit Arcata, but that Arcata needs to move fast before Eureka takes over the tourism aspect of the recreational cannabis boom.

The original proposal to the council was for five commercial cannabis businesses in the Arcata Plaza and up to 15 more throughout the city of Arcata. The large amount for a small town like Arcata is because they wanted to make it easier to bike or walk to a cannabis service or outlet (safety!). The decision was made to allow just two in the Arcata Plaza, along with a few others throughout the city of Arcata. As of March 27th, the ordinance was adopted for Arcata, although citizens can petition it until April 27th.

There were polls sent out by the community development committee to figure out what types of cannabis businesses should be allowed, how far away they must be from each other as well as daycares, schools, public places, etc. While the people of Arcata mostly support cannabis and the tourism that results from it, city council members didn’t want Arcata to become too ‘cannabis-centric.’ Although, much like Amsterdam, I’m fairly certain that people have been coming from all parts of the world to experience the cannabis culture here for a few decades now.

The benefits of these cannabis retail outlets would be great for everyone in Arcata. Not only would the cannabis tourism mean money for everyone from store owners to workers, there are now a wider variety of benefits. There are already laws against big corporations within Arcata’s boundaries, which means all the business owners are locals.

Another part of this permit includes opening up zoning throughout Arcata to attract innovative new business ideas including cannabis-infused or inspired massage parlors, bars, even allowing existing non-cannabis retail outfits to apply for a small shelf space for cannabis products.

Although Humboldt has had a long-standing intimate relationship with cannabis, the new legalization has strengthened that bond, and will hopefully increase the cannabis tourism here once again. In Arcata and throughout Humboldt County, citizens have already experienced the positive results from the cannabis industry and will continue if they remain as open-minded as they currently seem to be.


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