Special Marijuana Initiatives Workshop Meeting

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On Tuesday, March 20, 2018, The Vista City Council met for a special workshop meeting at the Vista Civic Center, 200 Civic Center Dr., Vista. The City staff has compiled a report. Since last March, the City Council has discussed the topic of permitting cannabis-related retail uses on four occasions. Most recently, in February, the City Council requested more information regarding fines and penalties that could be imposed on unpermitted marijuana retail locations, as well as a workshop meeting to delve deeper into the issue as a whole. At Tuesdays special meeting, City staff explained all findings of their research regarding Cannabis.

Background:
On November 8, 2016, California voters approved the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64), which took effect on November 9, 2016. Vista voters were 57 percent in favor of Proposition 64 and 43 percent opposed, similar percentages when compared to voters in San Diego County and Statewide.

For adults over the age of 21, Proposition 64 allows personal use of marijuana, possession of up to 28.5 grams of marijuana (or 4 grams in concentrated form), and cultivation of up to six plants on residential property for personal use.

Proposition 64 preserves cities’ ability to ban dispensaries and sales of medical and recreational marijuana, outdoor cultivation, and to “reasonably regulate,” but not ban, indoor cultivation for personal use at private residences.

Proposition 64 prohibits smoking or ingesting marijuana in any public place and while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. It also prohibits smoking marijuana where smoking tobacco is prohibited and within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, or youth center when children are present.

Proposition 64 sets up a state licensing and regulatory scheme for commercial marijuana activities including retail sales, cultivation, delivery, distribution, manufacturing, and testing.

Proposition 64 preserves the ability of cities to prohibit or regulate these commercial activities within their jurisdictions.

Proof of local approval is not required by the state prior to issuing licenses. Because medical and recreational marijuana are both now permitted in the state, the Governor has indicated that he wants to merge the medical marijuana regulations approved by the Legislature in 2015.

In 2017, a citizens’ initiative garnered enough registered voter signatures to qualify for placement on the November 2018 general election ballot. The placement was formalized at the September 26, 2017 City Council meeting. The initiative would allow for one medicinal retailer per 10,000 residents in the city limits, to be located in the commercial, industrial and business park zoning districts, including the mixed-use zoning district, with certain conditions. Within the permitted districts, retailers could be in any location that is at least 600 feet from any pre-existing public or private K-12 school and 500 feet from any other permitted medicinal retailer. The initiative would impose a seven percent special use tax on gross sales.

Another Initiative
For possible qualification in the November 2018 General Election ballot, the initiative creates “Safe Access Cannabis Overlay Zones” authorizing retail marijuana sales in three areas of the City, including the re-zoning of some residential properties to commercial; creates an “Industrial Cannabis Overlay Zone” authorizing commercial production, distribution and testing in areas of south Vista; limits retail businesses to one per 25,000 residents, does not limit industrial businesses; places prohibition on the location based on sensitive uses already defined in state law, within 600 feet of existing City parks, or within 50 feet of the roadways of W. Vista Way and Emerald Drive. The initiative does not authorize any tax on marijuana sales, but would allow an annual levy of up to $10 per square foot of the interior area occupied by a marijuana business. This initiative as of this date has not collected any signatures.

The consensus of the City Council is the 2017 citizens’ initiative is not the best plan for the residents of Vista and with the city staffs help to create an initiative which is best for Vista.

Fifteen members of the public addressed the council on their support or opposition to local marijuana initiatives. The council discussed all options for the initiative with the guidance of Aly Zimmermann, Assistant City Manager. Staff was directed to design a council initiative to put on the November 8th ballot including the following:

Medicinal Dispensaries Only
600-1000 feet from sensitive use areas
500 feet from other marijuana shops
Two retail shops only
Two shops with delivery only
Two cultivation locations only
Two research and testing only
Two manufacturing only
Hours: 9am – 9pm
To obtain permit, no prior convictions
Illegal operators, code violators and tax evaders, will not be eligible to operate
Enforcement of illegal shops provided from tax revenues
Other guidelines may be added

For either initiative to go into effect it must receive 50% + 1 to pass. If neither receives enough votes, no changes will be made to city regulations and will remain status quo.

We suggest that you read the entire MARIJUANA WORKSHOP Report.
Aly Zimmermann, Assistant City Manager, said the staff would return a report to council in June.

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