Resident seeks to put cannabis on ballot in Encinitas

Resident seeks to put cannabis on ballot in Encinitas
Petitions must receive signatures from 10 percent of Encinitas voters by mid-June to earn a spot on the November ballot. Stock photo

A Cardiff-by-the-Sea man is seeking a future ballot measure to legalize the retail sale, cultivation, manufacturing and distribution of cannabis in Encinitas, a month after the City Council announced it would not pursue a related ballot measure.

The city received a notice of intent to circulate a petition titled “Cannabis Activity Zoning Ordinance of Encinitas” filed by R. Jordan Greenhall of Cardiff. If voters approved it, the draft ordinance would legalize and regulate cannabis storefronts, commercial cultivation, manufacturing, the production of edible cannabis products and the distribution of cannabis throughout the city.

The Coast News reached out to Greenhall for comment and will update the story when it is received.

Cannabis proponents in 2017 targeted Encinitas with a similar petition and started to collect signatures. They halted their efforts after Encinitas said it would explore creating an ordinance that would allow the cultivation of cannabis after the owner of Dramm & Echter, the city’s largest remaining flower grower, expressed interest in growing cannabis on a section of his property.

Last October, the City Council voted to send the issues to voters in 2018 rather than vote up or down on the regulations. Bob Echter withdrew his request shortly thereafter, opting to pursue a mix of housing and agriculture on his property, and the City Council announced last month that it would not pursue the ballot measure.

The latest petition request wasn’t unexpected, as the proponent of the previous signature campaign told The Coast News that another attempt was likely. Mayor Catherine Blakespear also said she anticipated a revived petition, and said the city could decide to place a discussion item on the agenda to discuss an alternate proposal to take to voters.

“There’s tremendous public interest in marijuana regulations and the arrival of this petition is a reflection of that,” Blakespear said. “The City Council was only considering cultivation and this proposed ordinance includes both cultivation and up to four commercial storefronts. So it’s broader than what we’re thinking about allowing in Encinitas. Given the strong feelings on all sides, I’m curious what the result will be from the voters.”

Proponents have argued that the people spoke their will about cannabis when Encinitas voters favored Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. The 2016 proposition legalized recreational use in California and laid out a framework for regulation and taxation of cannabis sales beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

But the bill was silent as to local jurisdictions, giving them control over whether to allow other cannabis-related activities. Cities in North County have banned commercial cannabis activities, though voters in Vista will vote in November as to whether to allow medical cannabis storefronts.

The current petition would allow for the following:

• One cannabis retailer per 15,000 residents permitted, with the council authorized to allow more.

• A separation of 1,000 feet from sensitive uses such as daycare centers, schools or playgrounds required.

• Operating hours from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, and a security guard on the premises.

• Commercial growing of marijuana could take place only on agriculturally zoned properties, inside a greenhouse or building, with no visibility from the street, no public access and no on-premises sales.

• Manufacturing and distributing marijuana products would be allowed in business park or light industrial zones.

• So-called “cannabis kitchens,” where edible products are manufactured, in certain zones.

The city has until April 17 to prepare a ballot title and summary that proponents will use for their signature collection. Proponents will then have 180 days to collect the valid signatures of 10 percent of the city’s 40,342 registered voters — or 4,035 signatures, City Clerk Kathy Hollywood said.

Proponents can submit the signatures earlier than the 180-day mark, but if they wanted to have this before voters in 2018 they would have to collect the signatures by no later than mid-June, Hollywood said, which would give the Registrar of Voters time to verify the signatures and the city time to certify the petition results and possibly place it on the ballot.

The city has several options of proponents collect enough signatures. The council can approve the ordinance outright, submit it to voters or request an impact report that would detail the effects of the ordinance on the city from a fiscal, infrastructural, business, agricultural and governmental perspective. They can request this report during the circulation of the petition as well.

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