CARLSBAD — On the evening of April 25, the City Council held a full-house meeting to discuss, among other things, an ordinance that would prohibit commercial marijuana activity, and regulate the cultivation of marijuana for personal use.
No actual decision was reached regarding the ordinance, however the council was unanimous in its decision: a movement for continuance, effectively tabling the idea until new language could be introduced.
The continuance came about as the result of two major concerns with the language of the ordinance: biotech research and elderly health care.
Proposition 64, which passed in November 2016, allows for home growing, but not public smoking.
It also states that medical dispensaries cannot sell to recreational users, and that cultivators cannot sell at all until they are licensed by the state in January 2018.
Proposition 64 also defers a significant amount of power to the communities, which is precisely what Carlsbad seeks to do. Other San Diego communities that have already exercised this option include Poway, Santee, San Marcos, National City and others.
Fifty-seven percent of Carlsbad voters voted for Proposition 64.
The public commentary segment was lively and spirited, with more than a dozen speakers passionately covering a wide range of marijuana-related topics. One such speaker was Tess Stewart Todd, a cofounder and program director at La Jolla Addiction Healing Center, who compared wax, dabs and goo (concentrated forms of marijuana) with heroin. “Kids are ending up in pine boxes,” she said. “And marijuana is their gateway.”
Other speakers ranged from teachers to health care workers, but the prevailing concerns were regarding what was considered “normal” for Carlsbad. “It should not be normal for students to leave school and see marijuana dispensaries,” said Diane Rapp, who admitted to staking out a dispensary in San Diego to judge the health concerns of customers going inside and out.
Normalcy was a popular buzzword in the meeting. Laurie Faulstitch, one of several teachers present said: “We don’t need to normalize marijuana, because it’s not normal.”
Though in the minority, speakers against the ordinance also had their say. “This is a solution in search of a problem,” Brian Potter said. “But to overstep into really suppressing basic freedoms like this, I just can’t believe it.”
Once public commentary ended, council members shared their thoughts and concerns. Two of the more salient points dealt with older people, and the ability for Carlsbad-based biotech companies to perform, or continue, any marijuana-related research unimpeded. The other concern was for older Carlsbad residents. The council wanted to be clear that they would still have access to medicine. “This is difficult for me because I grew up a cop,” Councilman Keith Blackburn said. “If we can regulate marijuana, I think it’s a good thing for our community. Maybe we’ll be sitting here in six years encouraging its use, I have no idea. I have no problem with the way this is written up.” Blackburn does, however, have issues with the aforementioned topics of scientific research and medicinal healthcare for the elderly. “I would like for us to look into figuring out a way to help grandma,” he said.
Councilwoman Cori Schumacher considered the topic from a broader perspective. “This is one of those moments in time when ideas are shifting,” she said. In response to the public comments regarding marijuana’s severity, she said: “What I can say with certitude is that marijuana is not a gateway drug.”
The council was prepared to vote on the ordinance, with the caveat that new language be introduced at a later date to address their concerns. City Attorney Celia Brewer suggested that, in the interest of keeping things clean, the ordinance be put off and reintroduced once the new language was complete. Brewer suggested a continuance. Blackburn moved for the continuance, and it passed unanimously.