City Council approves medical marijuana ballot initiative for 2018

City Council approves medical marijuana ballot initiative for 2018
The Nov. 8 Encinitas City Council meeting began with a surprise announcement from Bob Echter, the owner of Dramm and Echter, the city’s last large-scale flower grower. He had been the driving force behind the push to allow commercial cultivation of cannabis.

VISTA — Vista residents can expect to see a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana businesses in the next general municipal election on Nov. 6, 2018. The City Council unanimously approved the initiative on Sept. 26.

City Clerk Kathy Valdez presented the item to notify the City Council that the registrar of voters obtained a certification of signatures from a petition. Valdez certified the petition named “An Initiative to Legalize Medical Marijuana (Cannabis) in the City of Vista.”

“It was filed on Aug. 9, 2017, as sufficient for the next regular election which will take place on Nov. 6, 2018,” Valdez said.

Following Valdez, one speaker opposed medical marijuana businesses in Vista and another spoke in support of them.

Deputy Mayor John Franklin shared his concerns. He said a new generation has emerged with a clear understanding of the health ramifications of smoking traditional tobacco products. 

“It’s certainly dramatically different than the generation of our parents and grandparents who didn’t understand the harms of using tobacco and inhaling the smoke in your lungs,” he said. “It does seem terribly ironic to me that we now have a massive movement to increase access to smoking marijuana that will absolutely field the next step of an epidemic of lung cancer.”

Franklin called it unfortunate and said a move to educate citizens would be necessary. Nevertheless, Franklin moved that the initiative go forward without any alteration to hear what the citizens of Vista want. 

“There are strong feelings, and we know that the public has something to say about this,” he said. “None of us here are necessarily medical experts or experts in any other regard other than our own life experiences, and I really think we owe it to the people who live in the city to give them a say on this.”    

Councilman Joe Green also approved Franklin’s motion.

Councilwoman Amanda Rigby also agreed to move forward, but noted calls she received from a handful of people who signed the petition but had a change of heart reading it after the fact.

“I actually got phone calls from six people telling me that they didn’t read it before they signed it at the supermarket parking lot,” she said. “They thought based on the pollsters of what was told to them by the signature gatherer that it was going to be a good thing. They signed the petition, and then they took the time later to read it and realized that it’s not something they wanted in the community.”

Rigby said people reached out to her and asked how to get their signatures removed from the petition, She advised them to contact the San Diego County Registrar of Voters office.

Rigby closed by saying that people had the right to look at this ballot, read it and vote on it.

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