Cannabis petition for Encinitas submitted to Registrar of Voters

A San Diego-based marijuana advocacy group has submitted its latest supported petition for marijuana cultivation and storefronts to be allowed in Encinitas.

The Association of Cannabis Professionals (ACP) turned in the petition — intended to "clarify and refine marijuana regulations in the City of Encinitas [and] to strengthen patient rights and safeguard patient privacy" — with 6,187 signatures to city hall on the afternoon of June 26, according to City Clerk Kathy Hollywood.

In the initiative, written by Cardiff resident Jordan Greenhall, the proponents call for 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 petition, which the ACP and Greenhall began circulating in April, is currently on its way to the San Diego Registrar of Voters. That office has 30 days (not including weekends or holidays) to examine the document and validate the signatures. At least 4,040 of the signatures must be valid from Encinitas residents in order for the initiative to qualify for the November ballot, Hollywood said.

If the group successfully earns enough valid signatures, the city council must take action no later than Aug. 8 to get the measure on the November 2018 ballot, Hollywood said. The council can adopt the ordinance as-is, submit it to the voters for the November election by the registrar's Aug. 10 deadline or order a report asking how the measure's language would affect the city. That report must be sent back to the city within 10 days, according to a city document.

The city council's next regular meeting, should the registrar take the full 30 days to validate signatures, is Aug. 8, two days before an initiative must be submitted for the November 2018 ballot.

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.

The ACP also circulated a similar petition in July 2017 but rescinded the document that 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 that pending November ballot measure.

In an April interview, Dallin Young, the executive director of the ACP, said, following that council decision, his group felt compelled to "step up and make sure there was something for the people of Encinitas to vote on when it comes to cannabis regulation."

Young noted the latest measure aligns itself with state regulations and "brings language and licensing types up to speed." It also addresses the allowance of industrial hemp cultivation in agricultural zones.

Greenhall could not be reached for comment by press time.

Cannabis has been a hot button issue at council meetings for more than a year, with supporters and naysayers often flooding public comment periods to share their opinions. Advocates have argued delivery services could be beneficial to medical patients, that marijuana has been in Encinitas for years — whether or not opponents “realized it” — and cultivation could provide tax money for other city projects, like train track trenching. Opponents have urged the council to not allow marijuana in the city to prevent access for children, crime and more DUIs.

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