Come Nov. 3, the Napa County city that more closely resembles “Pleasantville” than a town on the other side of the railroad tracks from the federal government may mark a change in its reputation as voters decide whether to allow sales of retail cannabis in the city.

The town council decided June 16 to ask voters if the city should have one cannabis retail operation for adult use in its commercial district.

It also decided to establish a 3% tax on the operation’s gross receipts, with the prospect of raising “an estimated $30,000 to $100,000,” the ballot measure’s language reads. The retailer would need to obtain a permit and meet regulatory conditions.

“I think the council really listened to the community,” Yountville City Manager Steve Rogers said.

Many residents have expressed the desire to have a place to buy cannabis in town, Rogers pointed out. And about two-thirds of the voters approved Proposition 64, the statewide initiative allowing for recreational use in 2016.

Still, other citizens expressed a NIMBY attitude, Rogers added. That stands for “not in my backyard.”

The question of whether to join other Wine Country jurisdictions has been discussed in Yountville for two years. The small town with a population of almost 3,000 people already allows for adult recreation and medicinal delivery of cannabis.

“When you look at the population base, you may ask why we need cannabis. Well, why do we need 17 tasting rooms,” Rogers said, referencing wine.

If the ordinance passes, the town will join the county seat — Napa — in allowing legal cannabis sales for medicinal purposes.

Napa County has shown reluctance to embrace the distribution of cannabis than its neighbor to the west — Sonoma County. There’s no cultivation operation in Napa County.

“Napa County, in general, has been slow to approve cannabis,” Rogers said.

The latest door opening to a substance still considered a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government represents “the byproduct of an organic community discussion,” Rogers pointed out.

The pros and cons of that byproduct have resulted in a changing landscape that is open to “smokables,” edibles and other cannabis products.

More than 15 cannabis operations have expressed interest in fulfilling this role in Yountville, if the measure passes this fall.

One of them is Herba Buena, whose owner, lives in Napa and has considered running a large-scale operation in Sonoma County.

“Yes, I’m interested. This is my back yard,” Alicia Rose said. “Cannabis done right can be an extraordinary addition to the town as a high-end sophisticated retailer.”

Susan Wood covers law, banking, production and cannabis. She can be reached at 530-545-8662 or


Leave a Reply