The Encinitas City Council voted in September to fight an effort to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries in the fall election.
The vote, cast Sept. 10, means the city officially opposes the campaign to reverse the city’s ban on dispensaries. Measure F, the proposal that would legalize medical pot shops, will appear on the ballot in November.
“It is up to voters in the City of Encinitas to decide how it’s going to go, but for or all sorts of reasons, fundamentally and technically, I can’t support it,” said Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer.
Dispensary proponents first sought to challenge the city’s ban in 2012, but failed to get the measure on the ballot that year.
Measure F would allow medical pot dispensaries to get city business permits. They could operate between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., and couldn’t be located less than 600 feet from schools and playgrounds.
“Compassionate Use Dispensaries” would have to provide security guards, alarm systems, closed circuit cameras, and secure cannabis storage. Dispensary directors would also have to undergo criminal background checks. And they couldn’t sell weed to underage patients unless the patients have medical ID cards and bring a parent with them.
The city’s Planning Department would be required to process permits within two months and notify applicants of problems within 15 days after applications are received.
The council’s vote to oppose the measure was unanimous, meaning pot advocates won’t get a friendly reception from the city.
“I can’t imagine weaving medical marijuana into the fabric of our community,” Mayor Kristin Gaspar said.
Most of the residents who attended the council meeting said they support the vote, though some complained it would rob the city of needed medical facilities. James Shmachtenberger, an author of Measure F, said the city would receive needed tax revenue and crime would drop. The measure wouldn’t increase access to weed by youths, he said.
“Additionally, where there is regulation, crime is going to go down,” Schmachtenberger said. “You are not going to have all the petty theft. I ask that you take a neutral stance on it. I believe your influence would sway voters; I think it is something that should be left up to them to become educated on.”
Other residents complained dispensaries would ruin the city. Nancy Logan, who spoke against Measure F, called the medical marijuana system – a view shared by many poorly educated foes of medical pot.
“If it was medicine we would get it at the pharmacy,” Logan said.
City Attorney Glen Sabine told the council they couldn’t enact any kind of official ordinance opposing the election measure because it’s a voter initiative. But he said they could express their opinion in a public vote.