San Marcos Outlaws All Cannabis-Related Commercial Activity

Wednesday, October 25, 2017
By Alison St John
Credit: Associated Press
Above: Customers buy products at a medical marijuana dispensary, April 20, 2016.

San Marcos City Council has unanimously approved an ordinance outlawing marijuana cultivation, delivery or sale within city boundaries when recreational marijuana becomes legal in California on Jan. 1.

San Marcos is making its existing moratorium into a permanent ordinance, banning all commercial activities involving pot.

“I really think the right thing to do is not to have dispensaries in the city of San Marcos” Mayor Jim Desmond said. “You already get six plants in your house. I mean, if that’s not enough for recreation … that’s plenty I think for a year or more.”

Desmond asked Wendy House of the city attorney’s office about whether marijuana could be brought from outside the city and delivered in San Marcos.

“No, they can drive through San Marcos to make their delivery in Vista, but they cannot make their delivery in San Marcos,” House said.

House told KPBS that while commercial delivery is illegal, a caregiver bringing medicinal marijuana from an out-of-town dispensary to a patient would not be illegal.

It is also illegal to deliver medicinal marijuana commercially in Vista, though the city of Oceanside does permit delivery of medicinal marijuana from out-of-town dispensaries.

Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery said that, according to an app called Weedmaps, there are currently 45 illegal delivery services operating in Oceanside and one operating legally. A dispensary called 420 Central has a retail dispensary in Santa Ana and an Oceanside business license to deliver in the city.

A medicinal marijuana ad hoc committee in Oceanside is considering options including whether to recommend legalizing cultivation. That may come before the full council in December.

The Encinitas City Council has a commercial ban in place, and recently decided to put an initiative on next year’s ballot to let voters decided whether to legalize and regulate commercial activity.

Six residents testified before the San Marcos City Council Tuesday night, all of them in favor of banning any commercial activity involving marijuana.

The new ordinance holds commercial property owners liable if their renters are found engaging in commercial activity involving cannabis on their property. However, city staff said misdemeanor penalties would not be imposed if the property owners cooperated with efforts to shut down such operations.

Desmond said while it will not be illegal to possess marijuana starting Jan. 1, it will remain illegal to smoke it in any public place in San Marcos.

So far, the San Diego City Council is the only one in the county to legalize and regulate cultivation, testing, distribution and sale of marijuana, starting in January.

The Association of Cannabis Professionals is already collecting signatures to put initiatives on the ballot in several cities next year. The initiatives would make commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana legal in those cities, and allow them to collect sales tax from those activities. However, Dallin Young of the Cannabis Professionals, said San Marcos is not one of the cities where signature gatherers are working.