For TOCC Urgent ord Dec 6th 2016 info Nick Q
Editorial: Cities must not delay on marijuana decisions
If you're a city council member, city manager, city attorney, city planner or just about anyone involved in running a California city these days, we found some mandatory reading for you on this long holiday weekend if you haven't already seen this.
It's the League of California Cities' "Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64) Frequently Asked Questions — Updated Nov. 22, 2016."
Did you know, for example, that although it is now legal to grow and smoke marijuana indoors, the property owner can prohibit it? That means public agencies that own housing projects will need to decide if they want them to be weed-free.
Or that a city can ban retail cultivation and sales of marijuana, or personal outdoor growing, but if it does, it won't get any law enforcement or other grants funded by the $1 billion a year or more the state may get from its taxes on pot?
These are just two of many questions our cities will need to answer before the state starts issuing marijuana retail licenses late next year or early 2018 — and the sooner they answer them, the better.
Too often in the past, we have seen our cities get caught flat-footed when a project is proposed and a zoning or land-use policy is unclear. Adult bookstores and massage parlors will seem like minor headaches for city planners unprepared for the marijuana onslaught.
First on a city's to-do list, we think, is trying to figure out what its community wants. More than 56 percent of Californians supported legalization Nov. 8, as did every city in Ventura County except Fillmore. Mayors and police chiefs should stop decrying legalization and instead start holding public meetings on issues cities must decide, such as whether to allow retail sales and outdoor cultivation and, if so, exactly where. How many stores? Should local taxes be imposed on top of the state's 15 percent tax? Should business licenses and permits be required, and at what cost?
The league's FAQ says cities that wish to ban marijuana stores and other activities "should adopt express prohibitions, even if they operate under a permissive zoning code." Under Prop. 64, "If a city does not adopt an ordinance expressly banning or regulating nonmedical marijuana businesses before the state begins issuing state licenses … they will be able to operate within its jurisdiction without local permission or permitting," the league says.
We applaud Camarillo for getting on top of the situation and passing a 45-day moratorium this month on nonmedical marijuana facilities and cultivators. Ojai, meanwhile, agreed this month to license the delivery and pickup of medical marijuana. And Fillmore voters Nov. 8 approved taxing marijuana sales and commercial cultivation in case the city ever allows them.
None of these, however, addresses the core question of whether and where to allow marijuana stores — a decision that should come through community consensus. We think each of our cities needs to designate a point person to work on marijuana issues and move forward without delay.