Oceanside Planning Commission Doubles Down On Proposed Medicinal Marijuana Ordinance

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
By Alison St John
Photo by Matthew Bowler / KPBS
Above: A close-up of a marijuana leaf is seen in this undated photo.

Oceanside’s Planning Commission voted unanimously this week to recommend the city council approve a proposed ordinance to allow cultivation, testing and sale of medicinal marijuana.

However, the commission voted to double the number of dispensaries recommended by Oceanside’s medicinal marijuana ad hoc committee, and double the amount of land farmers could devote to the crop.

Oceanside’s ad hoc committee has been meeting for a year and hearing testimony from residents. The committee hammered out an ordinance that would allow up to four dispensaries — one for every 40,000 residents.

City staff recommended starting with two dispensaries before expanding. The Public Safety Commission is not recommending the city council approve it.

But Kyle Krahel of Oceanside’s Planning Commission said four would not provide enough competition in the city, and the commission voted unanimously to recommend increasing the number of dispensaries allowed to eight.

“There’s already a lot of common sense restrictions on where these dispensaries are going to be allowed,” Krahel said. “And I think that common sense regulation negates the need to have an overly restrictive limit.”

After hearing testimony from local farmers, the Planning Commission also recommended doubling the amount of land farmers can devote to cannabis cultivation from 10 percent to 20 percent. The San Diego Farm Bureau supports the ordinance, and Oceanside farmers say cannabis cultivation could save agriculture from becoming untenable in the Morro Hills area of the city.

Other North County cities have banned commercial marijuana operations. Currently, Oceanside allows deliveries from licensed dispensaries elsewhere.

Krahel said he believes North County cities will follow the lead of San Diego, which has already opened the door to licensed dispensaries

“Oceanside is just the leading edge of a tide that’s going to wash over all of North County eventually when it comes to medical marijuana,” Krahel said. “It’s just a matter of time. And with the advent of recreational in San Diego, and the potential tax revenue boon helping their budget, and budget constrains throughout North County, we’ll see recreational as the next opportunity as well.”

Tax revenues are not as significant for medicinal marijuana, but the Oceanside ordinance is restricted to medicinal marijuana because there is not enough support on the city council to approve commercial licensing of recreational cannabis.

Council vote March 28

The full Oceanside City Council will vote March 28 on the proposed medicinal marijuana ordinance.

The outcome could have a tangential impact on a San Diego County Supervisors race. Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern, a Republican, is co-chair of the ad hoc committee and has taken a stand in support of Oceanside’s ordinance. He said he did not vote to legalize marijuana under Proposition 64 in 2016, but 57 percent of Oceanside residents did. He said his job is to support the will of the people.

Kern said he does not support doubling the number of dispensaries recommended by the ad hoc committee.

Kern’s support of Oceanside’s medicinal marijuana ordinance is one of the few issues that distinguish him from San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond. San Marcos has banned all commercial marijuana activity.

The outcome of the vote on Oceanside’s ordinance is likely to depend on the newly appointed mayor, Peter Weiss, who replaced former Jim Wood in January.

Dallin Young of the Association of Cannabis Professionals said, if passed, Oceanside would become the fifth city in San Diego County to lift the ban on licensed dispensaries for medicinal marijuana, after San Diego, Chula Vista, La Mesa and Lemon Grove. He said La Mesa might license a dispensary this month.

The city of San Diego and Chula Vista have voted to permit a limited number of recreational marijuana dispensaries.