CARLSBAD — Commercial marijuana operations were banned in a 4-1 vote Sept. 26 by the City Council.
Recreational cannabis was legalized in California in 2016 via Proposition 64, although commercial sales and operations will not begin until Jan. 1, 2018. However, the council opted to introduce an ordinance to ban such sales, commercial activities and outdoor grows on personal property up to six plants, as allowed by state law unless a city outlaws the practice.
John Byrum, a prevention specialist with the North Coastal Prevention Coalition in Vista, said he and the organization applaud the decision to ban all commercial marijuana activities.
“Unfortunately, Carlsbad residents may soon face outside interests funded by the San Diego Association of Cannabis Professionals (ACP),” he said. “They are on the streets gathering signatures to overturn your efforts. They are using misinformation and outright lies such as, ‘Do you want to keep marijuana away from schools?’”
With the new regulations, violations would be considered a misdemeanor criminal offense except where state law limits the penalty to an infraction. The change will go into effect 30 days after Tuesday’s meeting.
Prior to the Sept. 26 vote, the city already prohibited commercial cannabis activities in two ways, according to the city website.
First, the city only allows commercial activities specifically called out in the zoning code, and commercial cannabis activities such as dispensaries, cultivation, manufacturing and delivery are not included in the list of allowed uses. Second, the city’s business license regulations do not allow businesses that violate federal law.
In addition, Carlsbad residents must conceal indoor grows at their private residence and outdoor cultivation is not allowed on their property. Users also cannot smoke or ingest marijuana in any public place. A violation can result in a misdemeanor charge.
“I just want to thank you for your stand to not allow cannabis businesses in Carlsbad,” resident Kelly McCormick said. “I think that is very commendable. And for protecting our youth and people 21 to 25 who can still encounter brain damage, actually, from the developing brain using pot products.”
Among Carlsbad voters only, Proposition 64 passed by 57 percent, according to the city’s website. The law decriminalizes the nonmedical use of marijuana by people 21 and older, allows the personal cultivation of six marijuana plants, creates state regulatory and licensing system for the commercial cultivation, testing and distribution of nonmedical marijuana, and the manufacturing of nonmedical marijuana products.
Sam Humeid, of the San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance, urged the council to allow delivery services for infirm residents, as is done in La Quinta, which also has a ban on commercial activities.