Oceanside heads off the state Medical Marijuana Program Act with city regulations

OCEANSIDE — The City Council introduced an ordinance to prohibit cannabis cultivation and delivery on Wednesday in a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Chuck Lowery voting no.

The vote was triggered by State Assembly Bills 226 and 243, collectively named the Medical Marijuana Program Act. The bills establish state licensing of medical marijuana cultivation and delivery, and go into effect March 1.

The council majority said they want to ensure city control of marijuana regulations.

Over a dozen speakers addressed the City Council, with all but one asking the city to adopt the state laws. Residents, including seniors, moms and military veterans spoke about personal health conditions that are greatly improved through use of medical marijuana, including cancer, autism and PTSD.

“Without the help of medical marijuana I don’t know if I would be here today,” Oceanside resident Shirley Carolan said. “I’m still suffering from breast cancer. It helps me.”

Many speakers questioned city allowance of recreational alcohol sales, boasting about craft breweries, and the disallowance of medical marijuana.

“You’re turning people who are delivering this to patients into criminals,” Oceanside resident Chris Wilson said.

Others said by not allowing storefront distribution or delivery, patients would need to turn to buying marijuana in dark alleys from gang members.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez recommended the city draft regulations to allow delivery of medical marijuana from licensed distributers outside of Oceanside after the initial city ordinance is adopted.

Fellow council members agreed.

“This is not saying no more medical marijuana,” Mayor Jim Wood said.

Allowing commercial cultivation and delivery from distributers within the city was ruled out due to safety concerns. Since 2012, 45 robberies have been related to sales, purchase or possession of marijuana.

City attorney John Mullen said private cultivation by patients is allowed on a small scale.

All council members expressed compassion for those who use medical marijuana for serious illnesses.

Lowery asked fellow council members to consider amending the introduced ordinance to immediately include deliveries from distributers outside of Oceanside, but did not receive support.

Lowery said his no vote was due to the delay between passing the initial ordinance and the city drafting and adopting regulations to allow delivery.

“My biggest concern is people needing medicine,” Lowery said.

Currently Oceanside does not have enforcement power to stop deliveries. Proposed regulations will change that.

The council will vote to adopt the ordinance at its next meeting.

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