The Oceanside City Council on December 20 voted 3-1 to forward the recommendations of the Medical Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee to staff and advisory boards/commissions for review and comments to be brought back to council.
Inside Oceanside council chambers on December 20th
The Ad-Hoc Committee began its work on April 19, 2017, to explore regulations that could be implemented to license commercial medical cannabis activities in Oceanside. The public meetings held since then covered cultivation, banking and finance, testing, dispensaries, manufacturing, distribution, and public safety. The approval process continues with review by advisory boards, city staff, planning commission, economic development commission, police and fire, and others. The committee's recommendations could be revised in the review process, before proposed ordinances would be presented to Council for final approval.
Oceanside currently has a ban in effect, with the exception of permitting delivery services affiliated with licensed dispensaries in other cities. There is currently one licensed delivery service in Oceanside, and according to Deputy Mayor Lowery, there is another one going through the permit process. He also stated that there are multiple unpermitted delivery services showing up on Weedmaps that serve Oceanside. Eliminating unlicensed "black market" operators has been one of the goals of the Ad-Hoc Committee's work.
Prior to the council meeting, a group of about 20 advocates met near the fountain at City Hall. This was a chance to show solidarity and support for the committee's work. As five o'clock drew near, supporters and dissenters filled council chambers to standing room only.
Between 30 and 40 people signed up for their three-minute public comment. Approximately 75 percent of the speakers were in favor of adopting the Ad-Hoc Committee's recommendations to staff; about 25 percent were opposed. One speaker (a cannabis entrepreneur) lost his cool with councilmember Esther Sanchez’s disinterest in the proceedings — she appeared to be eating and looking down at her phone and not paying any attention.
Sanchez called a point of order and city clerk Zack Beck reminded everyone that although this is a democracy, there was a standard of decorum that must be upheld. The speaker apologized for his tone and thunderous applause resounded as he returned to his seat.
Another minor outburst came from the gallery when a Vista resident complained that the meetings were only publicized to proponents and "where were the parents and the PTA?” One person shouted out, "We're here!"
With the resignation of mayor Jim Wood on December 13th due to health problems, there was the worry that the council was going to be deadlocked 2-2 on this vote. Wood’s resignation is effective January 1st, but he did not attend the December 20th council meeting.
Had this vote not passed, there was a concern that an already submitted ballot initiative (by the Association of Cannabis Professionals — ACP) could gather momentum. Going the ballot-initiative route would have required a costly special election and also prevented local control since any changes or revisions would have to go before the voters rather than approved at the city level. Sanchez and councilmember Jack Feller had been opposed. However, Feller voted "yes" with the stipulation that the licensing and permitting process would only apply to medicinal cannabis, not adult use (aka recreational).