Economic Development Committee weighs in on medical marijuana businesses

Economic Development Committee weighs in on medical marijuana businesses
Courtesy photo


OCEANSIDE — City staff shared the Medical Marijuana Ad-hoc Committee’s guideline for allowing cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, testing laboratories, nurseries and storefront sales of medical marijuana with the city’s Economic Development Committee on March 1.

Deanna Lorson, assistant city manager, gave an overview of proposed city regulations, which mirror state requirements. They include a business plan, security plan with onsite 24/7 security and a 1,000-feet separation requirement between marijuana businesses and sensitive uses, such as schools, parks and churches.

Growth, manufacturing and sales would be logged on a statewide track and trace system to ensure accountability.

Employees of marijuana businesses must pass a police criminal background check and be 21 or older. Signage of businesses is limited to the business name and address, without logos or banners.

Additionally, all marijuana businesses in the city are restricted to east of Interstate 5.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are limited to four, and it is suggested to begin with two the first year.

The city would gain minimal revenues from business licenses and property taxes. Regulatory fees could be used to offset city costs. Further tax on marijuana businesses would need voter approval.

A February meeting with the Police and Fire Commission drew safety concerns from the police chief and fire chief. There is unease marijuana businesses would increase crime, loitering, panhandling and marijuana-related DUI traffic accidents. There is also concern businesses will cause increased marijuana-related medical and ambulance services, a danger of smoke exposure if a fire occurs at a marijuana business and demands on lifeguards to enforce a smoking ban on city beaches.

The committee did not recommend sending the ad hoc committee’s recommendations to City Council.

Speakers at the Economic Development Committee meeting were largely supportive of medical marijuana businesses. Comments included reduction of black market sales, increased city revenues, marijuana’s legality, city control and safe patient access.

An Oceanside farmer said she is excited about the opportunity to grow the crop.

Commissioners suggested a tax structure be developed and monies be earmarked for public safety, to address homelessness, and fund other city services.

“Not to have taxation, I think it would be a mistake,” Commissioner Matt Altman said.

Commission consensus was to take it slow in adding marijuana businesses. Commissioners said it is important that businesses do not negate the city.

Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery, the ad hoc committee chair, said marijuana businesses have approached the city with million-dollar offers to be first in line to open a business.

Lowery added farmers can make $600 to $900 a pound growing marijuana compared to a $2 a pound profit for fruit and vegetable crops.

“This is the money that’s out there,” Lowery said.

Commissioners stressed the importance of the integrity of the city over tempting business offers.

“To me personally it’s very important to be mindful of the city’s reputation as we move forward,”

Commission Chair Tyrone Matthews said.

City staff will share meeting notes when it brings an ordinance forward to the Planning Commission March 12, and City Council March 28.


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