Advocates seek to pose pot question to Oceanside voters

OCEANSIDE — Next time you shop for groceries in Oceanside a volunteer with a clipboard might ask you to sign a petition to put regulations for city marijuana businesses on the ballot. The ballot initiative is proposed by Dallin Young, executive director of the Association of Cannabis Professionals.

Young said the group is a regional trade association that politically supports legal marijuana businesses. He added business regulations benefit everyone.

The proposed initiative would ensure that cannabis businesses are a safe distance from sensitive uses such as schools, parks and churches, and are limited in number. Commercial cultivation would only be allowed in agricultural areas.

Young said the group is proposing an initiative in Oceanside because a majority of city voters supported state Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana.

City laws are the next step to regulate marijuana cultivation, lab testing, manufacturing and sales. Young said without rules black market practices will continue, and consumers will be left without product assurances.

The group has been gathering signatures and educating residents for two weeks. Young said there are a lot of misconceptions and many people do not realize that state legalization of medical and recreational marijuana leaves cities without cannabis business laws.

He said currently some businesses are trying to do their best for consumers, and others are trying to make a quick buck. For consumers, it’s a dangerous gamble, he added.

Young said he talked to Oceanside council members about the initiative and asked for their input. He said some council members shared their thoughts and others were reluctant to engage in dialogue.

“Council members have taken it differently,” Young said.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said she talked to Young and asked that commercial cultivation, measures to protect minors and drug rehabilitation be included in city regulations. She added she does not support the initiative at this time.

The city also launched an ad hoc committee to look at medical marijuana business regulations. The committee wrapped up its final public hearing Sept. 28.

Due to the Brown Act, Sanchez was not able to participate in committee meetings that were chaired by Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery and Councilman Jerry Kern.

Young said he is aware of the ad hoc committee and would like it to be successful in council adoption of medical marijuana business permits and zoning. He said he is in favor of some forms of city regulations, and is not aware of specific recommendations the committee will share with council in November.

He commended the committee for its efforts, and acknowledged that marijuana regulations are a new frontier.

“It’s a complicated industry,” Young said. “You’re not going to get down to the nitty-gritty of it in a few ad hoc meetings.”

He added if the council majority is not in agreement with committee recommendations, the proposed ballot initiative would be a plan B to ensure regulations are in place.

The proposed initiative addresses medical and recreational cannabis businesses. Young said it is beneficial to include both.

Medical marijuana sales cannot be taxed. Recreational sales are taxable and provide revenues to implement city- and state-mandated regulations.

Kern spoke against the initiative at the Oct. 3 MainStreet Morning Meeting. He advised residents not to sign a petition to put the initiative on the ballot, and added laws that are voted in are difficult to change.

The Association of Cannabis Professionals is proposing similar initiatives in Encinitas and Vista, which also had high voter support for Proposition 64.


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