Friday, November 24 , 2017, 6:44 am | Fair 48º


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Lompoc City Council Starts Crafting Marijuana Regulations

Panel moves toward allowing dispensaries and establishing other rules for medical and recreational cannabis

Some 75 people, many carrying signs, attended a special Lompoc City Council meeting on marijuana regulations Tuesday night. Click to view larger
Some 75 people, many carrying signs, attended a special Lompoc City Council meeting on marijuana regulations Tuesday night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Lompoc City Council members have begun hashing out how they want to regulate medical and recreational marijuana after declining to adopt any bans involving an industry eyed as a future city revenue source.

The discussion Tuesday night attracted approximately 75 people for the more than 3-hour meeting, where the council settled many matters and referred others to an ad-hoc committee for fine-tuning.

The council scheduled the special meeting after deciding during an Aug. 1 session that the complex topic needed its own session.

Last November, California voters adopted Proposition 64, allowing limited recreational uses of marijuana with sales to start Jan. 1.

However, any city that fails to implement rules by Jan. 1 will lose local control, City Attorney Joe Pannone said.

Council members weighed in on indoor and outdoor personal cultivation, appeared set to ask voters in November 2018 to approve a tax, with the details yet to be decided, and agreed to ban smoking of marijuana in city parks, even where tobacco is allowed. 

Medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed, although some discussion occurred on whether to hold a lottery to pick who could operate in Lompoc. 

“I think we should allow dispensaries. I think it needs some more research as to what those limitations are and what those boundaries are,” Councilwoman Jenelle Osborne said.

She suggested starting with a limited number, and choosing them by lottery from those paying an application fee, adding that she wants to remove possible politics from the decision to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity.

Other communities that adopted regulations restricted the number of dispensaries for the first few years, she said. 

“There is ways to stage this, where we make sure that we go through an application process that is very thorough, where we have a system that maintains that we are handing out permits to those who have their license from the state in a way that’s equitable, that potentially on the application gives points to those who live local,” Osborne said.

She also noted that the council needs to decide a number of other issues regarding dispensaries, including if retail dispensaries would be limited to just H Street or Ocean Avenue or some other area. 

“There are a multitude of things that I don’t want to duplicate if the state’s already put in place, but we may need to fine tune for our community,” she said. 

Councilman Jim Mosby noted that the city doesn’t regulate the number of pharmacies or wineries. Additionally, landlords who won’t lease to a cannabis company will help control the number of dispensaries, he added.

“I think the free market’s going to limit it significantly,” Mosby said. “You don’t want 100 of them. I don’t think free market would allow 100. They’d be out of business shortly and they’d cannibalize each other.”

Mayor Bob Lingl raised concerns about security issues, but the remaining council members appeared lukewarm to spelling out requirements.

“It’s somebody’s business. They’re going to do what they have to secure it,” Councilman Dirk Starbuck said, noting that the local gun shop has its own security cameras and lighting. “It’s the same. Leave it up to business owner or the dispensary owner.” 

Most of the speakers at Tuesday’s meeting urged the council to allow cannibis, saying it was crucial to their physical- and mental-health issues while others questioned the safety and medical benefits. 

The ad hoc committee of Osborne and Councilman Victor Vega will work with the city attorney in drafting the proposed regulations to present to the council this fall for approval by Nov. 21 to meet the Jan. 1 deadline.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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