Cannabis Initiative Can Gather Signatures


Carlsbad residents will begin to see signature gatherers around town for an initiative that proposes to change city cannabis regulations. The Association of Cannabis Professionals, the group proposing the change in local law, has until Feb. 6, 2018, to gather signatures from 15 percent of registered voters, 10,628, to place the item on the ballot for a special election or 10 percent, 7,086, to qualify for the next regular election, Nov. 6, 2018.

Although cannabis generally refers to the plant or plant type, and marijuana typically refers to the seeds, leaves and flowers of the plant, these two terms are used interchangeably under state law.

What Is Proposed

The initiative proposes allowing the retail sale, commercial growing, commercial manufacturing, delivery and distribution of marijuana in the City of Carlsbad with a conditional use permit in certain zoning districts. Read the initiative for the details.

Where, When & How of Signature Gathering

The law specifies where, when and how signatures are gathered:
Signature gatherers may set up on public property such as sidewalks, public plazas and transit stations.
Signature gatherers may set up in commercial areas with multiple storefronts or parking lots that serve multiple stores. With permission, they may set up on other private property.
Signatures must be from people registered to vote in the City of Carlsbad at the time of signing.
Signature gatherers are required to attach the entire initiative text to the signature page.
Signature gatherers may not knowingly make false statements about an initiative.
A person may not be paid for signing a petition, although it is legal for signature gatherers to be paid.
Signature gatherers must disclose whether they are paid or volunteers, if asked.
A voter may only sign the initiative petition one time.

Under California election law, the initiative petition must include the city attorney’s ballot title and summary and the entire text of the proposed initiative. The words “Initiative Measure to Be Submitted Directly to the Voters” and the ballot title and summary must appear at the top of each page of the initiative petition. If enough valid signatures are collected, the City Council has two choices: adopt the initiative without alteration or put the initiative on the ballot for a public vote.

“It’s important to know what you’re signing,” says Sheila Cobian, clerk services manager for the City of Carlsbad. “We encourage residents to take the time to read and understand the initiative before deciding whether or not to sign. We’ve made copies available online, at City Hall and at our local libraries.”

Complaints about signature gatherers are handled by the California Secretary of State, not the City of Carlsbad. Visit the Secretary of State’s website at

Federal, State and City Laws

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act started as a citizens initiative in the state of California and was included on the Nov. 8, 2016, ballot as Proposition 64. It passed with 57 percent of the vote and most of its provisions took effect Nov. 9, 2016. Among Carlsbad voters only, the initiative also passed by 57 percent. This law:
Legalizes the nonmedical use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and over and the personal cultivation of six marijuana plants
Creates state regulatory and licensing system for the commercial cultivation, testing, and distribution of nonmedical marijuana, and the manufacturing of nonmedical marijuana products
Allows local governments to prohibit or regulate and license commercial nonmedical marijuana

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law with narrow exceptions as approved by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

City staff originally proposed an ordinance to the City Council April 25 to expressly prohibit commercial marijuana activities and outdoor growing for personal use. The City Council directed staff to research and provide alternatives for allowing cannabis research and development activities that are permitted by the federal government and transportation of cannabis for medical use.

The Carlsbad City Council will consider alternative ordinances Sept. 12 to change the language in the Carlsbad Municipal Code to expressly prohibit commercial marijuana activities, with the modifications requested at the April 25 meeting. Today, these activities are prohibited through something called “permissive zoning.” Under permissive zoning, any land use not specifically listed in the code is not allowed. Commercial marijuana activities are not listed. The staff report and proposed alternative ordinances will be available on the city’s website prior to the City Council meeting.

The city received notice of the intent to circulate an initiative petition in July, along with several other local cities. On Aug. 10 the Carlsbad City Attorney provided a ballot title and summary to the initiative proponents, who then published a notice in The San Diego Union Tribune, another requirement of state election law.

A copy of the initiative is available on the city’s website, in the Office of the City Clerk, 1200 Carlsbad Village Drive, and at city libraries.

For more information
City of Carlsbad, City Clerk’s Office, 1200 Carlsbad Village Drive and Faraday Administration Center, 1635 Faraday Ave.,, 760-434-2808

City of Carlsbad media contact
Kristina Ray, or 760-434-2957


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