OCEANSIDE — Oceanside City Council voted to send a letter of opposition against Proposition 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana use in the state.
Councilman Jack Feller proposed the city letter, which received a 4-1 vote on Sept. 21. Feller added a recommendation that a city press release be issued to inform residents of the council’s stance.
The one vote against the opposition letter was cast by Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery, who strongly supports medical marijuana use. Lowery said his no vote is due to the added difficulty patients may face to obtain medical marijuana if the state votes down recreational use.
Lowery called the letter an “overreach” by the City Council on a state voters issue. Following the City Council vote he said not enough research was done by the city on the impacts of the law.
“It was a completely emotional decision without considering the pros and cons,” Lowery said. “This is a complex issue, not simply a yes or no.”
Lowery said he would have liked to see further public discussion on the proposition.
“It’s an overreach to think we know best and to release that conclusion to the public,” Lowery said.
The downside of Proposition 64, which was not vetted in the council discussion, is it overrides local statutes.
Oceanside laws allow medical marijuana delivery from licensed dispensaries outside the city.
Lowery said he does not want legal access for Oceanside patients to be negatively impacted.
Feller said his opposition to recreational use is a matter of protecting children from increased access to the drug.
“I simply can’t explain to my children or yours why using marijuana is good for them,” Feller said. “I don’t want to have to explain why I didn’t take a stand against something that is addictive, illegal and mind-altering. I’m not willing to compromise.”
A handful of speakers at the council meeting also spoke against the proposition. They shared the concern that there would be increased marijuana use by kids if the state law passes.
During the meeting Councilwoman Esther Sanchez also spoke against Proposition 64, and her concerns for community health and safety.
Feller said he presently does not support recreational use or medical marijuana delivery and sales, and will not be able to do so until federal regulations assure more safeguards.
“The state is trying to force something on us that is not really legal,” Feller said.
The city has posted news of the City Council 4-1 vote to send an opposition letter on its website, and added a link to the city resolution, which lists reasons against the proposition.
The proposition allows adults age 21 and over to possess 8 grams of marijuana and grow up to six plants. It also prohibits marijuana businesses within 600 feet of schools, parks and recreation centers.
A limitation of the proposition is that drug felons would not be denied a marijuana business license based on their past drug crimes.
The city resolution cites an increase in Colorado drivers operating vehicles under the influence and an increase in traffic fatalities since recreational use was legalized there, as well as other negative impacts.
Feller said he wants residents to know the city took a position on Proposition 64, and hopes it “seals the deal” and encourages voters to oppose it.