Wednesday, January 27 the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 (with Supervisor Jim Desmond voting no) to instruct staff to write an ordinance that will legalize the sale, distribution, and growing of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes. And to put persons with pot-related arrests and convictions at the top of the list for getting licenses to sell pot.
Staff will bring the ordinance back to the board for final approval in six months, after hearings during which the public will be encouraged to give input on the ordinance.
Note: this ordinance would not apply within the city limits of Escondido, which has not yet adopted such a policy.
Two days before the vote, Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher and Supervisor Nora Vargas said the ordinance would advance “social equity.”
Fletcher declared, “We know that many communities have been devastated by the War on Drugs and disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system. We seek to undo these past wrongs by centering social justice at the core of our cannabis approach.”
Fletcher, who tried to get a similar policy passed last year, but failed to win support, added, “We are bringing forward policy that allows for safe, regulated, and legal cannabis products. Right now, we have unlicensed operations with potentially unsafe products being sold in the unincorporated area.”
Fifth District Supervisor Jim Desmond after the vote said, “Today, the County Board of Supervisors voted to give people previously arrested or convicted of drug crimes greater opportunities and reduced barriers to own and operate cannabis dispensaries. That’s crazy and bad for the safety of our communities. Encouraging convicted drug criminals to come to San Diego and sell marijuana is a terrible idea.”
The ordinance was sponsored by Supervisors Fletcher and Vargas and would allow marijuana dispensaries and cultivation. Currently, marijuana dispensaries and cultivation are prohibited within the unincorporated County.
The ordinance will allow cannabis sales in any commercially zoned property in the unincorporated area, with very few limitations. And provide preference of operating licenses in the unincorporated area to people that have been either arrested and/or convicted of cannabis crimes.
The ordinance will allow:
- Individuals with past marijuana convictions and/or arrests to receive preferential treatment in obtaining a marijuana dispensary operating permit
- Retail marijuana (dispensaries) on all commercially zoned property
- Consumption of marijuana products at facilities and permitted events
- Cultivation of marijuana on all agriculturally zoned property
- Distribution and manufacturing of cannabis products on all industrially zoned property
The only limitation is that these facilities cannot be located within 600 feet of a K-12 school, daycare center, or youth center.