Eureka pot smokers will soon be allowed to their thing indoors, and not only on their own couches. On Tuesday night, the Eureka City Council unanimously passed an ordinance allowing cannabis smoking lounges in the City.
This was the second reading of the ordinance, which amends the Eureka Municipal Code to allow for on-site smoking of cannabis in licensed retail facilities. The council voted to allow on-site cannabis consumption back in October 2018, but because of a conflict with the municipal code smoking was still prohibited.
At the meeting, some community members were concerned about the potential health risks of secondhand smoke presented by this ordinance. Local physician John Sullivan urged the council to further investigate the risks and consult with environmental health experts, “to make regulations to ensure that the public is protected from exposure to secondhand smoke, which is involuntary.”
Roy Gomez also spoke during the meeting, agreeing that precautions must be taken to protect employees from secondhand smoke.
Councilmember Natalie Arroyo agreed with some of the health concerns. But she said that since the end of cannabis prohibition, the council was obligated to provide a legal path for consumption. Though Arroyo was in favor of the ordinance, she does still hope to discourage smoking of any kind.
“I do hope what we’ll see in the future is more of a trend towards consuming cannabis in other formats other than smoking,” Arroyo said. “I hope we continue to send the message that smoking is not good for you.”
The rest of the council was also in favor of allowing cannabis smoking lounges, voting 4-0 in favor of the ordinance. Councilmember Heidi Messner was absent.
Councilmember Leslie Castellano said that she agreed with the need to provide a safe, legal place to smoke cannabis and said that this is the trend other cities are following since the end of prohibition.
“This may provide some options for people to who don’t want to smoke in their home around other people who don’t want to experience that,” Castellano said.
While discussing the ordinance during the City Council meeting on March 19, Eureka Senior Planner Rob Dumouchel said that cannabis businesses could have on-site consumption as early this August, though Development Services Director Rob Holmlund said that was probably a little ambitious.
The ordinance allows for cannabis smoking only, not tobacco. But Holmlund did say that the code could be amended later if there were interest in tobacco smoking lounges in the future.