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Oceanside Council Votes Against Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Medical marijuana clone plants are shown at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Feb. 1, 2011.
Associated Press
Medical marijuana clone plants are shown at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Feb. 1, 2011.
Oceanside Council Votes Against Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Oceanside Council Votes Against Allowing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries To Operate In City GUEST:Peter Weiss, Oceanside mayor

>>> Most North County cities do not allow marijuana businesses of any kind. Dispensaries, medical or recreational, farms or deliveries. Oceanside has been the exception. It allows medical marijuana from outside the city to be delivered to Oceanside residents. The City Council went even further last night and allowed some businesses but rejected a plan to legalize medical dispensaries. The deciding vote was newly appointed mayor Peter Weiss who joins me now. Welcome to the program. >> Thank you. >> You are appointed to replace Jim wood so you did not run for office. What is your stance on marijuana either recreational or medical. >> We have been printed by the state that it has indicated that marijuana is legal. So we have been through an exhaustive process that started long before I became the mayor, to look at and have recommendations provided to the City Council that ended last night, in regards to how we would and should address the overall cultivation distribution testing and ultimately the sale of marijuana. >> The state law does give some control to local municipalities. So based on that, what do you see the right pathway for Oceanside in terms of legalizing marijuana? >> My personal opinion and one that I shared last night is that I feel that we need to take a sensible and measured approach to how we go into this as an early industry. We don't know a lot. We don't know how the overall industry operates or doesn't operate. What works well and what doesn't work well. We have had some experience in the past with illegal dispensaries where we have been very proactive in going after them and shutting them down because of the problems they caused. However, when we look at the industry side of things, the cultivation and the manufacturing and the testing, we have recommendations from the committee and from staff that would give us the opportunity to allow those businesses to come in and operate -- at least set up an operation and go through a process within the city. I have felt strongly that I would not support dispensaries at this point in time. It looks, based on the information we have received, that to set up even a growing operation -- we are looking at 12-18 months -- probably longer before any of these businesses are actually operational. And so I don't know that we need to be in a hurry to wholesale change the way we deal with the marijuana industry. Not one person that showed up last night complained that they don't have access to marijuana. So clearly, with the delivery model that we do allow, people are having access to it. So I didn't think we needed to go so far as allowing storefront dispensaries -- since people have access to it now. >> The City Council has been working on this legislation for more than a year. Here is deputy mayor Chuck Lowery at the hearing last night. >> That works great for people who will remain on the City Council for a couple of years. But for the rest of us who will not be here -- unless we get reelected, it doesn't matter. So we have done a lot of work that has not gone anywhere. That is quite frustrating. >> The planning commission did recommend including planning dispensaries in the ordinance. What was the deciding factor for your vote against that plan? >> The recommendation from the police department. A lot of it was based on the unknown -- with the experience we have is with the illegal dispensaries, not necessarily with the legal ones. Part of the problem is that there is not enough legal dispensaries currently in existence for the city, including the police department to accurately and adequately evaluate the impact. And the police department's recommendation was a way of moving forward on opening up any type of dispensary in order to give the police department time to evaluate the various concerns and problems that other cities are having or may not be having in regards to those dispensaries. >> What kind of timeframe are you looking at? >> San Diego does have dispensaries and the police department has been working with that for some time now. >> I don't have a specific answer on the timeline. My is you -- issue is I want to give other businesses who I feel are behind-the-scenes, the manufacturing and the testing and the cultivation -- they are not going to be advertised businesses. I would like to see them up and running. I would also like to see, based on staff recommendation, that we have some type of revenue tax measure on the 2020 ballot that would allow the city to actually generate some revenue. That was one of the issues a lot of the proponents were saying -- is that there was a revenue potential. The only way to do that is to go to the voters and prove a tax measure. That would be in 2020. My personal opinion is, I don't necessarily need to see dispensaries until we have a tax measure in place so we can generate revenue to offset the cost of the long-term enforcement, either by public safety planning or other departments in the city. >> When you refer to putting a sales tax on the ballot potentially in 2020, are you referring to a sales tax on medical or recreational marijuana? >> With what I have gotten from various sources, it is not really a sales tax on the marijuana. It is a tax. But apparently, different places have done it and opposed attacks between the cultivation and the distributional level. They put it at different places so there is a revenue measure. So it is not necessarily sales tax at the point of sale. From medicinal purposes, you cannot tax it. But there are taxes imposed along the supply chain, if you will. So until we get further information from staff as to how that would work, I don't know that I have a specific answer. >> You mentioned revenue. From what I understand, you are currently floating the idea of putting a half cent sales tax on the November ballot for Oceanside. Would you be open for dispensaries if they were open for recreational marijuana and could generate sales tax for the city? >> I have not given the recreational aspect much thought because everything we were dealing with was for medicinal purposes. I would have to seriously look at that. I would have some personal reservations about opening everything up for recreational use. >> As a mention, Oceanside is alone in North County for allowing marijuana businesses at all. Do you see Oceanside is leading the way on that regard? >> I don't know if I would say we are leading the way. But interestingly enough, if you go to weed maps, you will see access all over North County. We are not the only ones. So I think there are opportunities for all the other cities in North County to at least recognize that there are businesses that are operating within their cities -- whether they have put in place regulations are not. And I think the effort to chase them is difficult at best. And so I think we are taking -- a sensible and measured approach to this. I think time will tell if we need to either allow increased opportunity or further restrictions. And by the City Council, adopting ordinances and regulations, we now have the ability to change them if we need to. >> I have been speaking with the Oceanside mayor, Peter Weiss. Thank you so much. >> Thank you.

Oceanside Council Votes Against Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
The council did approve allowing medical marijuana cultivation, testing, distribution, manufacturing and nurseries within the city of Oceanside following the approval of a regulatory fee schedule.

Following a nearly four-hour public hearing Wednesday night, the Oceanside City Council voted against an ordinance that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

The deciding vote against allowing dispensaries was cast by the city's newly appointed mayor, Peter Weiss. In January, Weiss replaced Mayor Jim Wood who retired after suffering a number of strokes.

The vote against medical marijuana dispensaries was a rejection of the recommendations of both the city's planning commission and its medicinal marijuana ad hoc committee.

The council did approve allowing medical marijuana cultivation, testing, distribution, manufacturing and nurseries within the city of Oceanside following the approval of a regulatory fee schedule. City staff said it would take an estimated 120 to 180 days to come back to the council with recommendations on the fee schedule.

Deliveries of medicinal marijuana from dispensaries in other jurisdictions will continue to be allowed.

Weiss joined Midday Edition on Thursday to discuss how the city plans to move forward on the new medical marijuana ordinance.

“Part of the problem is there’s not enough legal dispensaries currently in existence for the police department to adequately evaluate the impacts,” Weiss said, “and the police department recommendation was the city wait on moving forward on opening any type of dispensaries in order to give time to evaluate the concerns and problems other cities may be having — or may not be having — in regard to those dispensaries.”

Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery co-chaired the ad hoc committee that spent the last year drafting the ordinance.

“We’ve done a lot of work that hasn’t gone anywhere” Lowery said. “That’s quite frustrating.”

Advocates for legal marijuana dispensaries, like Dallin Young of the Association of Cannabis Professionals, said they are now dusting off plans for a citizen’s initiative, but it would not be placed on the ballot till 2020.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.