The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Belmont City Council plans to allow retail of cannabis products

Belmont+Smoke+Shop+%26+Novelties+sells+cigarettes%2C+vapes%2C+and+other+smoke+products.+However%2C+smoke+shops+such+as+these+will+not+be+allowed+to+sell+cannabis+products.
Heidi Poole
Belmont Smoke Shop & Novelties sells cigarettes, vapes, and other smoke products. However, smoke shops such as these will not be allowed to sell cannabis products.

The Belmont City Council’s planning committee voted 3-2 to advance a proposal to change the zoning on El Camino Real to the City Council.

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a plant that contains the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other similar compounds. The plant produces a drug that is used for both medical and recreational purposes, and is one of the most used drugs in the United States, according to The National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Cannabis has been legal in California since 2016. However, Belmont has not changed their zoning laws to allow it to be sold here.

Changing the legal zoning laws will allow up to two dispensaries to sell cannabis products on El Camino Real between O’Neill Avenue and the border of San Carlos. With these dispensaries, Belmont residents who use cannabis for medical purposes will have easier access.

The idea was introduced a month ago and was pushed forward on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

“Allowing dispensaries in our city allows users who want to be able to shop in their city the opportunity to do so, particularly people who use cannabis for medical reasons,” said Robin Pang-Maganaris, Belmont City Council Member and former Nesbit Elementary School Principal.

Maganaris also said that changing the zoning will increase tax revenue.

“Our community is relatively small, and we have few retail opportunities here. As a result, we do not have a robust tax base to pay for the many city services that we all love like Parks and Rec, a strong police department, and open spaces,” Maganaris said.

The City Council is not approving new dispensaries; they are merely changing the zoning laws. For new dispensaries to open, they must go through an application process with the Belmont Police Department and city staff. 

According to a 2019 California Department of Public Health study, approximately 14% of high school students use cannabis, with 24% using it due to mental health concerns.

“Students are using cannabis because they hate school. They’re struggling, and it’s really hard for them to connect whether it’s academically, relationally, socially, or emotionally,” said San Mateo High School tobacco-use educator Jessamy Cadigan.

Many smoke shops are secured with a guard and an identification checker, so the possibility of students obtaining cannabis products from the dispensaries is slight.

“There’s an armed security person out front of the store and you have to swipe an ID to make sure that you are of age. Unlike liquor stores where kids can present fake IDs,” Maganaris said.

Belmont residents have additional concerns with cannabis dispensaries.

“I think they have the potential to bring some downsides to a neighborhood from the smell, and people worry about crime because of a disconnect between state law and federal law,” said Joanne Adamkewicz, a long-term Belmont resident and parent to a Carlmont High School Student.

The City Council will meet again in November.

“We will be discussing this further at the second city council meeting in November, and if anyone has an opinion either way, and they are of legal age, they can submit an email to the city council expressing their viewpoints,” Maganaris said.

The Council will then review the concerns and make their final decision.

“City council needs to determine whether the perceived negatives are true, and if they are, if the benefits outweigh the potential harm,” Maganaris said.

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About the Contributor
Heidi Poole, Staff Writer
Heidi Poole (Class of 2026) joined the journalism program this year where she primarily covers local news. Outside of journalism, she enjoys hanging out with friends, playing guitar, and biking.

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