Marijuana advocacy group challenging Encinitas again

A San Diego-based marijuana advocacy group is once again challenging Encinitas' stance on maintaining the city's status quo in regard to cannabis.

The Association of Cannabis Professionals (ACP) submitted its latest intent to circulate a petition to the city clerk's office March 30 for the purpose "to clarify and refine marijuana regulations in the City of Encinitas [and] to strengthen patient rights' and safeguard patient privacy."

In its draft initiative, the ACP proposes marijuana cultivation in agricultural zones and up to four commercial storefronts. 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 initiative also proposes product manufacturing and cannabis kitchens — a premise where edible cannabis products are made — in business parks, light industrial and general commercial zones. Distribution sites would be allowed in business parks and in light industrial zones.

The ACP also circulated a similar petition last July but rescinded the document in October the day before the city council voted to let Encinitas residents decide on marijuana cultivation on agricultural land. The council on March 14, however, voted to pursue consideration for the main cultivation applicant's land to be used to help the city meet state-mandated housing needs instead, thus eliminating the pending November ballot measure.

"When they failed to do so... we felt like it was time for us to step up and make sure there was something for the people of Encinitas to vote on when it comes to cannabis regulation," said Dallin Young, executive director of the ACP, on April 3.

This time, the ACP's measure aligns itself with state regulations and "brings language and licensing types up to speed," Young said. It also addresses the allowance of industrial hemp cultivation in agricultural zones.

The ACP would have to gather about 4,000 valid signatures from Encinitas residents in order for its initiative to appear on the November ballot, according to the city clerk's office. The ACP will have 180 days to gather the signatures from the time the city attorney completes the ballot title and summary.

In 2014, Encinitas voters rejected a similar ballot measure from the ACP. But in 2016, Encinitas residents passed Prop. 64, with 65 percent voting for legal recreational marijuana.

"There's tremendous public interest in marijuana regulations, and the arrival of this petition is a reflection of that," Mayor Catherine Blakespear said April 3. "The city council was only considering cultivation, and this proposed ordinance includes both cultivation and up to four commercial storefronts. So it's broader than what we were thinking about allowing in Encinitas. Given the strong feelings on all sides, I'm curious what the result will be from the vote."

Blakespear said she does not anticipate the city council to pursue a counter-initiative.

"If there's another group that wants to gather signatures for a complete ban, that's up to them," she said.

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