ENCINITAS – Nine months after residents passed Measure H to allow the regulated sale and cultivation of cannabis in the city, Encinitas City Council passed an ordinance in line with the approved initiative.
The measure was passed by the voting residents in the parliamentary elections last November with more than two points.
Encinitas previously showed widespread support for recreational cannabis legalization and regulation when 65% of residents voted for Prop 64 to legalize recreational use in the state in 2016.
The city must now await approval of the measure from the California Coastal Commission for approximately 80% of the city that is in the coastal zone.
“By acting, they can either seek approval of the ordinance or apply for an extension of up to a year,” said Encinitas urban planner Jennifer Gates.
Commenting on The Coast News, the Coastal Commission confirmed that it will require approval of new amendments to the local coastal plan for cannabis regulation, as cannabis sales are “generally restricted” and the permit contains new regulations.
The Coastal Commission has 90 days to resolve the matter without extension. If the permit is granted, the city accepts applications for permits.
Encinitas works with consulting firm HdL Companies, which has worked with other cities in the state to prepare permit applications. The city says that part of the reason the process took so long after the measure was approved is that city officials are not aware of the cannabis operations.
“We don’t have the staff expertise to select cannabis operators and we have chosen HdL to support us,” said City Manager Pamela Antil. “In my opinion, they represent cities and not the cannabis operators.”
The city also said it took a lot of time and effort to create a map that would allow legitimate operators to do business in the city away from sensitive areas like schools.
The measure lays down certain criteria that operators must meet in order to obtain a permit to sell or grow cannabis. Once the operators are determined to be eligible and have submitted their permit applications, a lottery will be held to determine which operators in the city are allowed to open a business.
Although the majority of voters in the city approve of the measure, Vice Mayor Tony Kranz continues to express his displeasure with the initiative and does not believe that it is good for the city.
“In all honesty, there is nothing about this measure that will ever improve or improve the quality of life in the city of Encinitas,” said Kranz. “It is one of my great regrets that this was successful.”
Kranz nonetheless voted for the new regulation to be adopted in line with the voter-approved initiative.
Despite the approval of the measure on the ballot, some residents came to the municipal council meeting to voice their concerns. Some even went so far as to urge the city to fully launch the measure despite the election.
The city said it will have more outreach plans in the future as the Coastal Commission is considering its new regulation and council members are interested in holding some sort of public forum to answer more questions from local residents.