Encinitas residents could soon be voting on whether or not the city should allow medical marijuana dispensaries.
Citizens for Patient Rights—a group that works to provide safe access to medical marijuana—has beenin hopes of getting the measure on the ballot this November. The group has finally gathered enough signatures to make that happen, according to a spokesperson.
“Right now we’re completing our internal verification of all the signatures before we turn them in to the city clerk,” said James Schmachtenberger, president of the Patient Care Association of California, a medical cannabis trade association that’s supporting the effort.
The group plans to give the list of signatures in to the city clerk within the next week. After that, the Registrar of Voters will verify all the signatures. In order to get the measure on the ballot, the group is required to turn in 3,742 signatures—which comes out to 10 percent of the Encinitas voting population—though Schmachtenberger said the group plans to significantly surpass that requirement.
Once the signatures are verified, the item will come before Encinitas City Council. At that time, Council can decide to: adopt the measure as a city ordinance without any public vote; agree to put the measure on the ballot; or request that city staff do a impact studying to find out how medical marijuana dispensaries would affect the community.
In order to get the measure on the ballot in November, Citizens for Patients Rights must file all its paperwork by Aug. 10. If Council decides to order an impact study, city staff legally has 30 days to complete that work—but that could mean the group would miss its deadline for getting the measure on to the ballot. In an effort to avoid that scenario, Schmachtenberger said he has provided Council with the ample data and information.
“Residents who singed this petition did it with the intent of having the opportunity to vote. The hope is that Council is cooperative to the spirit of that petition. We hope Council expedites the process and gives voters a fair chance to decide what they want,” Schmachtenberger said.
If the ballot measure passes in the election, Encinitas would be allowed to collect a 2.5 percent supplemental sales tax from all medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. Based on sales in other cities, that’ll likely boost the city’s coffers by at least $230,000 per year, Schmachtenberger said.
According to the proposed ordinance (PDF file attached), medical marijuana dispensaries would only be allowed in retail and industrial zones, with a 600-foot buffer from schools and playgrounds—plus a 1,000-foot buffer between dispensaries. There would also be limitations on signage, no onsite smoking would be allowed, and each dispensary would be required to have a community liaison to city government.
Citizens for Patients Rights is also working to bring the measure before voters in , Del Mar and Solana Beach—and each of those community’s city councils are expected to address the topic within the next few weeks.
These targeted cities were selected because all of them had among the highest voter turnout for Prop. 19, a 2010 ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana for all adults, not just medical patients. Of the five cities, Schmachtenberger said Encinitas voters have had the most enthused response.
“Our volunteers have gotten a very warm response on Encinitas streets, and often people will joke and ask if they can sign the petition twice,” he said.
Schmachtenberger invites some of those supporters to join him at the July 18 Encinitas City Council meeting, when he plans to speak during public comment period.
Encinitas Patch is following this story and will keep you posted with updates.