Marijuana advocacy group looks to petition the city

A group of marijuana advocates is planning to circulate a petition aiming to let the voters decide how the substance should be handled in Encinitas, superseding a decision the city council has been working on for months.

The San Diego-based Association of Cannabis Professionals is looking to gather enough signatures to place a local initiative on the ballot regarding how marijuana should be regulated, according to a letter sent to city staff on Aug. 22. It is also seeking to file similar petitions in Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, Chula Vista and Santee, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

In 2014, Encinitas voters rejected a similar ballot measure from the same group, according to Mayor Catherine Blakespear. But in 2016, Encinitas residents passed Prop. 64 with 65 percent voting for legal recreational marijuana.

Encinitas' marijuana subcommittee, consisting of Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz and council member Joe Mosca, which formed in April, is working on recommendations about marijuana in general to bring back to the city council. While some residents have disapproved of the substance, cultivation has been explored as a method to help Encinitas’ farmers. Responsible delivery systems have also been discussed, but the task force has so far seemed to not be in favor of any retail shops in the city.

In the Aug. 22 letter, the Association of Cannabis Professionals suggested retail shops should be permitted, with a maximum of one retailer per every 15,000 Encinitas residents. This would mean at least four shops in the city since the population is nearly 60,000, according to the 2010 census report.

Consultations from medical professionals would not be permitted at the shops, and the retailers would be 1,000 feet away from schools. Security, including operable cameras, alarms and a security guard, would be at each site. The shops would operate between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., seven days a week.

The Association of Cannabis Professionals also suggested commercial cultivation sites should be allowed, with a conditional use permit, and all growing should take place inside a building or greenhouse, with no visibility from the street.

Regulations on manufacturing, distribution and personal use cultivation were also mentioned in the letter.

If the group gathers enough signatures and its initiative is approved by the voters of Encinitas or the city council, the initiative would amend city code to authorize marijuana-related businesses, regulated in terms of lighting, signage and security. The conditional use permits would expire after five years, and no felons may work at the businesses.

“If the Encinitas City Council enacted regulations around marijuana businesses, including opting to prohibit all marijuana business outright, the results of an election on this ballot measure would supersede our decision,” Blakespear explained in her newsletter. “So ultimately, the voters may well decide this issue."

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