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Vista, Oceanside Wrestle With Ban On Medical Pot Dispensaries

Two North County cities are wrestling with how to handle California’s legalization of recreational marijuana, which goes into effect next year. Vista and Oceanside each held meetings this week on whether to consider approving pot dispensaries.

Photo by Alison St John

Vista city hall, 2016

Vista City Council has instructed staff to work on an ordinance that would allow two medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. Currently, dispensaries are banned in all North County cities, but Vista was threatened with a citizens initiative if it does not act to lift the ban.

The city budgeted $35,000 for a survey to find out what registered voters want.

City Councilman Joe Green responded to critics who want to preserve the ban.

“The census in Vista is that they want safe, reliable access to medical marijuana,” he said. “I don’t think 11 or 12 dispensaries is what I wanted either. That’s what the citizens initiative is, it’s in double digits. I do think two is small.”

Green suggested two to five dispensaries be approved. Vista has a population of just under 100,000 residents. However, other city council members remain cautious.

Staff will return in two to four months with a plan to legally approve two medical marijuana dispensaries.

Meanwhile, Oceanside is holding a public hearing Thursday evening at City Hall to discuss how to react to Proposition 64. The measure legalizes recreational marijuana in the state starting next year, except in cities where it is locally banned.

Oceanside has formed an ad hoc committee that will hold meetings over the next six months on the issue.

Oceanside City Council has already voted to allow medical marijuana deliveries from other jurisdictions. Currently, the city of San Diego is the only city in the county that has approved legal dispensaries. Fewer than a dozen have been approved so far.

Two North County cities, Vista and Oceanside, are wrestling this week with how to handle Proposition 64, California’s legalization of recreational marijuana, which goes into effect next year.

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