‘Bud and breakfast’ operator concerned about South Lake Tahoe’s cannabis regulations
November 13, 2017
Guests at Daniel Zuhlke's South Lake Tahoe AirBnB are greeted by a table adorned with flowers, vegan snacks, a crowler of local craft beer — and a bong filled with Tahoe-grown cannabis.
Touted as "Tahoe's 1st Vegan Bed, Bud, Brew and Breakfast," Zuhlke's vacation home rental — a one-room granny unit next to his home — is one of the businesses that has found a way to take advantage of the legalization of recreation cannabis ahead of the Jan. 1 starting date for retail sales. Zuhlke, a bridge engineer, "gifts" adult-use cannabis to his guests.
Since Prop. 64 passed in November 2016, adults 21 years or older can posses and consume recreational marijuana, as well as grow up to six plants in a residential facility for personal consumption. The state of California is still in the process of drafting its regulations for recreational cannabis retail sales, commercial grows, edible production and testing, though they are expected out sometime in November.
Zuhlke got the idea for his "bud and breakfast" after staying at one in Mendocino.
"She didn't supply any cannabis, but she had bongs and things you could use. I've always known of their existence, so when I realized we could gift weed, it was always kind of my intention with this place to allow people to smoke," explained Zuhlke. "I travel a lot. Where you can smoke is an issue, even medical marijuana. So I think this place offers a service that people like."
Not all hotels in states where recreational cannabis is legal are "420 friendly," and it's illegal to smoke in public.
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Zuhlke said he has concerns about how the city of South Lake Tahoe will regulate adult-use cannabis given that local jurisdictions can enact stricter rules than the state — even ban retail sales altogether. He's even considered circulating a petition to get a measure on the ballot.
South Lake Tahoe's lone medical marijuana dispensary, Tahoe Wellness Cooperative, beat him to the punch. Executive Director Cody Bass' attorney drafted an amended city code for medical marijuana regulations that, among other provisions, would allow his dispensary to also sell recreational cannabis. The petition needs 1,036 valid signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot.
"I'm not real impressed with where I think the City Council is going to end up with the subject," said Zuhlke.
Zuhlke is worried that any cannabis-related business will be relegated to the industrial area and creative business ideas, like a larger-scale "bud and breakfast" or massage parlors using cannabis-infused oils, will be outlawed.
"No one from any cannabis-related industry was put on the subcommittee of stakeholders," he noted.
South Lake Tahoe's cannabis subcommittee includes city and county residents, both for and against recreational sales in the community, as well as councilmembers Brooke Laine and Tom Davis. The group has met twice so far to discuss how to regulate the industry locally.
"We excluded [those in the cannabis industry] because we don't want them driving the conversation. This is a cross-section of the community. They are going to decide how many dispensaries we want, where we want them, how we educate the community and how we prevent youth under 21 from getting recreational marijuana," said Davis.
"The city can ban recreational marijuana, but our local voters by 64 percent said they want recreational marijuana, so for me as a lawmaker that's a mandate. We have no intention of banning recreational marijuana," he added.
Davis said the city is moving forward with a moratorium to give themselves ample time to draft local regulations without people applying with the state for a temporary operating license.
The moratorium would prohibit recreational cannabis retail sales, commercial grows, and edible production for a 45-day period starting the day it's voted into effect. The ordinance would then require an additional vote to extend the ban for another 10 months and 15 days.
"Many cities, including us, are not ready. We want to go slow and learn from the mistakes in Colorado and Washington," said Davis.