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Oceanside Considering Medical Marijuana Regulations

June 22, 2017 1:32 p.m.

Oceanside Considering Medical Marijuana Regulations

GUESTS:

Chuck Lowery, deputy mayor, City of Oceanside

Eric Larson, executive director, San Diego County Farm Bureau

Related Story: Oceanside Considering Medical Marijuana Regulations

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

The sale of recreational marijuana was approved by voters last year and will go into effect next January unless local jurisdictions have taken steps. Cities around San Diego County are doing just that, but Oceanside has large agricultural areas where farmers are interested in the future potential of the crop. City Council is tackling the dilemma with an ad hoc committee that met this week to talk about the possibility of growing and dispensing medicinal marijuana in the city. We have the deputy mayor of Oceanside with us. Thank you for joining us.
Thank you.
We also have the executive of the San Diego Farm Bureau. Starting with you mayor, your city Council has voted to ban growing and selling marijuana, even though it does allow delivery of medicinal marijuana. What is the purpose of this committee? Are you preparing specific legislation?
Yes. We are currently preparing regulation to allow the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana in the city of Oceanside. The difference in medical and recreational marijuana is that our goal as this ad hoc committee is to facilitate medical marijuana. The other will require some other regulations, but we're not expecting that to be that complicated.
You are starting with medicinal and it may translate into recreational?
That is possible.
How much interest have you heard from farmers in Oceanside?
It is not just Oceanside, across the county. We have been approached by a number members -- of members. We recognize the very first step is getting local jurisdictions to give the okay. It is allowed by the state, the state recognizes it as an agricultural crop.
The county has already made it difficult for anyone to grow in the unincorporated areas. Are they looking to the cities to be a better back?
When you say difficult, it is actually impossible. Commercial cultivation has been banned in the unincorporated county. Now the cities are going one by one and taking a look. We have most interest in the cities where there is current agricultural taking place. Cities like Oceanside.
Does the Farm Bureau and doors just medicinal marijuana farming or do you advocate for growing marijuana for recreational purposes?
We understand the cities limitation and we are happy to work with them. The Farm Bureau's position, if a crop is recognized as a legal agricultural crop in the state of California by virtue of the voter or state legislation, we think farmers in San Diego County should be allowed to grow that legal crop.
Deputy mayor, your city manager is prepared to report the businesses will generate more than several billion dollars by 2020. Are the farmers and Oceanside looking for ways to be more economical? Can you talk to us about why you think that is important?
Oceanside have a large agricultural area. We have already gotten farmers out there doing all kinds of production, houseplants, avocados, tomatoes, organic crops like lettuce. The farmers want the choice to be able to grow cannabis so that they could produce it into product later. The idea of having a choice is what the farmers want. They don't necessarily want to be involved in the sale, but they are farmers and they need to make the choice of their own and not some outside governmental agency.
One of the current concerns about marijuana cultivation?
We need to know what we can do with banking. Banking is the biggest issue because the federal government controls it. As long as marijuana is considered a dangerous drug we have no idea how they will respond. Currently, there are millions of dollars in business going on over the state. It is all-cash. We want to get around that. We want to regulate so that we eliminate the underground or black market economy. This is dangerous for the quality of medication and hazardous to people handling products and having to take all-cash to do it.
Presumably farmers are talking about this issue.
Banking is a big issue. I think it needs to be pointed out that a working group has been created to try to find a California only solution to the banking issue, prior to the January 2018 date when commercial production can start taking place. The state recognizes that. It has been a long-running problem, but we are not convinced banking is the stumbling block. We think it can be overcome. The growers will have to find out how to deal with it.
Deputy Mayor Larry, what is the time hawk on that ad hoc committee? Where will you be coming back?
October is our bring it back to Council month. We have five more hearings scheduled between now and then. As of this week, the city attorney has started to work on regulations around growing and retail sales within the city of Oceanside. That is a huge step that we did not have one week ago. Because that ad hoc committee is in place and is an official city of Oceanside committee, the city staff will take direction from the committee. The committee is composed of myself, Jerry Kern, and our city treasurer, +2 residents.
I would like to thank you both for joining us.
You are welcome.