Council cannabis subcommittee hosts its final meeting

ENCINITAS — Encinitas officials have two draft ordinances regarding cannabis that essentially create a fork in the road and a need to make a choice.

The first ordinance, 13 pages long, provides the framework that would allow farmers to grow the plant on agriculturally zoned properties. The other ordinance, five pages, would ban cannabis cultivation, storefronts and medicinal dispensaries citywide.

A subcommittee composed of Councilmen Tony Kranz and Joe Mosca will discuss the two options at the final meeting of the committee formed to determine whether the city should allow cannabis cultivation or other cannabis-related activities.

Encinitas voters supported Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, by a 64-36 margin, the largest margin in the county. But voters two years earlier voted against medical cannabis storefronts. The city formed the subcommittee earlier this year to explore the dichotomy and determine if cultivation would be appropriate.

A large crowd is expected to attend the final meeting, held Sept. 28, as in the month leading up to the meeting, residents and stakeholders on both side of the divide have crowded council meetings and spoken for hours about the subject during the council’s oral communications period.

At recent meetings, Mayor Catherine Blakespear has had to instruct the large crowds to wave rather than applaud and limit redundant speakers, as the oral communications period — which is supposed to last a half hour — has stretched for nearly two hours.

“There are a lot of opinions and emotions on both sides,” Blakespear said.

Following Thursday’s meeting, the subcommittee will determine which ordinance to forward to the full council, which would resume deliberations later this year or in early 2018.

The ordinance that would allow cultivation would require those who want to grow the plant to obtain a permit annually. Anyone who had violated state cannabis cultivation laws within three years of trying to obtain a permit would be ineligible to receive one.

Grow sites would have to be indoors or in greenhouses, with security cameras at all entry and exit points, 6-foot-high opaque fencing, security guards (armed and unarmed), and have odor-control systems to limit off-site odors.

Growers would not be allowed to grow mature plants and or grow on greater than four acres of land. Smoking or using marijuana would be prohibited within 100 feet of the site.

The second ordinance would essentially reaffirm the status quo in the city — no storefronts, dispensaries or cultivation.

Both options would also prohibit commercial cannabis delivery unless it was being delivered by a primary caregiver to a patient or a person with an identification card delivering medical cannabis for their own personal use.

The council subcommittee will also consider information from the city of Vista, which polled its residents to ascertain residential opinion on cannabis-related topics.

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