Vista OKs ballot measure to regulate cannabis sales

Vista OKs ballot measure to regulate cannabis sales
If passed, the City Marijuana Business Initiative will allow three “delivery only” retail and two testing laboratories at the Vista Business Park. The new ordinance will not allow storefront pot shop retailers. Stock image

On June 12, City Council approved the final initiatives on a ballot measure regulating the sale of medicinal marijuana to be placed on the November ballot. It passed 4-0 with Councilwoman Amanda Rigby absent. 

If voters approve the ordinance, years of opposing marijuana sales in Vista will be a thing of the past.

If passed, the City Marijuana Business Initiative will allow three “delivery only” retail and two testing laboratories at the Vista Business Park. The new ordinance will not allow storefront pot shop retailers. The marijuana testing laboratories will be used for quality control purposes.

The City Marijuana Business Initiative was on the consent calendar. The topic was discussed and open to the public comment at other council meetings. On June 12, the consent item was not pulled by any council member or resident. 

The ordinance would allow and regulate retail marijuana delivery-only sales and laboratories.

According to city Communications Officer Andrea McCullough, medicinal marijuana businesses and laboratory activity is limited to the Vista Business Park area only.

“This is the main location for other labs/business warehouses, and it is zoned for this use — the medical marijuana delivery only and lab testing uses will be added to that zoning allowance which will be approved by the City Council after November, if the measure is passed by Vista voters,” she said.    

McCullough said on May 1, the City Council agreed to have City Attorney Darold Pieper to bring back a draft initiative.

“On May 29 when the draft was presented, the council updated the draft initiative to the three delivery-only retailers of medicinal cannabis and two testing laboratories,” McCullough said.   

Commercial marijuana sales have been prohibited in Vista. While the recreational sale of marijuana is allowed in the state of California, each city can make its own determination of legalizing it or not. In 2017, the city of Vista shut down a slew of more than 45 illegal cannabis businesses as well as three growing operations.

According to Tony Winney, assistant to the Vista City Manager, the city conducted a survey related to medical marijuana via telephone between May 31 and June 6, 2017. 

“The survey consisted of 1,103 registered voters in the city of Vista,” he said. “Fifty-six percent of voters were in favor of allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within the city of Vista. The results of the survey were presented to the City Council at their Sept. 26, 2017 meeting.”

The City Marijuana Business Initiative will compete with a qualified citizens’ initiative also to appear on the November ballot. The latter allows for 11 medical cannabis retail stores, a single parking spot per 1,000 square feet, no need for a residential setback, no criminal enforcement if licensed and a total of 7 percent in gross receipts tax.

Council members agreed that they needed an initiative that could complete with the qualified citizens’ initiative.

Also on the November ballot will be the City Marijuana Tax Initiative at 5 percent, which will be applied to the three delivery retailers, McCullough said.

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