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Goleta City Council Signals It’s Leaning Toward Regulating Recreational Marijuana Use

The City of Goleta will work fast to try to adopt rules for regulating recreational marijuana sales, but if it cannot agree on an ordinance by Jan. 1, the city intends to enact a temporary ban.

Such a ban would give Goleta more time to craft a reasonable, well-considered ordinance, and prevent state law from taking precedence.

If cities don’t have their own ordinances in place by Jan. 1, the state will start issuing licenses to business that want to sell recreational marijuana.

The City Council wrestled with regulations at a special Thursday night meeting that stretched past 10 p.m.

Goleta has the option to ban recreational sales altogether, or to regulate it, which is expected to open up a windfall of new revenue.

California voters in 2016 legalized recreational marijuana use for people 21 and older.

Most of the council members hinted that they wanted to regulate marijuana sales, rather than prohibit them.

If Goleta bans them, the companies will just go to Santa Barbara or Isla Vista, or other unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County.

“I support marijuana,” Councilman Michael Bennett said. “It’s in our community whether we think so or not. People didn’t say ‘No.’”

He said he had concerns about allowing commercial cultivation in the city, but that he was OK with sales.

“I believe regulation should occur,” Bennett said. “I would like to see staff move forward with workshops.”

Councilman Roger Aceves said it is incumbent on Goleta to regulate it. Doing nothing means the state laws apply, which would be far more expansive in terms of where recreational sales and cultivation are allowed.

“We definitely don’t want the state to come in and tell us how to do our business,” he said.

Deputy City Attorney Winnie Cai agreed that if the city has an interest in regulation, it needs to act soon, otherwise state regulations would be the law of the land.

“It’s just a little bit difficult to require people to get (local) permits once you have let them move forward without,” she said.

Goleta’s ordinance also would tackle the future of medical marijuana dispensaries.

Right now, Goleta has three legal, nonconforming dispensaries that were approved before the city banned them in 2009. The ordinance also would need to set rules for where cultivation could occur, as well as where recreational sales would take place.

Local governments throughout California are racing to ban, regulate or do nothing to address the legalization of recreational marijuana. The 2016 legalization takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.

Individuals 21 or older may possess, process, transport, purchase, obtain or give away up to 28.5 grams, about the size of a sandwich baggie of nonconcentated marijuana, or up to 8 grams of concentrated marijuana.

It can be smoked or ingested. It would also be legal for adults to possess, cultivate, dry or process up to six plants per residents for personal use.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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