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City Council Meeting Tuesday -MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACCESS DISCUSSION

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SUBJECT:  UDPATE TO MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACCESS DISCUSSION  accommodate one or more medicinal marijuana uses by preparing an initiative for placement on the November 2018 general election ballot that asks for voter approval of one or more of the identified uses.

Finally, at the September 2017 City Council meeting, information was requested on the difference between a medical “recommendation” and “card”.  This topic is more of a background item and not  applicable to the bulk of the discussion, so it is addressed here.  In summary, a recommendation is a letter from       a physician stating that the holder is qualified to use cannabis for medical purposes.  A recommendation is mandatory for all medical patients to obtain cannabis products from medical retailers.

Additionally, the California Department of Public Health’s Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program (MMICP) consists of a State-authorized medical marijuana identification card and registry database for  verification of qualified patients and their primary caregivers.  The Web-based registry allows law   enforcement and the public to verify the validity of a qualified patient or primary caregiver’s MMICP as authorization to possess, grow, transport, and/or use medical marijuana within California.  Participationby patients and primary caregivers in this identification card program is voluntary.

STATEMENT ON THE SUBJECT:  State Law.  Effective January 1, 2018, commercial marijuana activity, both medicinal and recreational, are legal in California.  As mentioned in previous reports, the separate state laws governing medicinal and recreational marijuana have been merged.  Personal possession and consumption of marijuana are  no longer illegal under state law; however, local governments continue to retain the authority to prohibit  commercial           marijuana activity such as retail dispensaries, delivery, testing and cultivation.

Currently all of these are prohibited in the City of Vista. As of the writing of this report, over 2,000 permits have been issued to commercial cannabis businesses  (retail, cultivation, distribution, transportation and testing) across California.  As the legal industry is still  in its infancy, most if not all permits are considered temporary; of the 2,000 permits for all business  types, approximately 270 are for medicinal retailers.  Yet, the cannabis industry still does not have access to traditional banking, which is a safety issue.  State officials are discussing possibilities, such as the creation of a taxpayer-backed bank, but this is still in the early research phase.

Another safety issue  of note is the delayed implementation of”track and trace” systems, which are designed to track a  cannabis plant from “seed to sale.” The State has required implementation of the system as part of the  Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA); however, it is not anticipated to go into effect for at least nine months.  This delay in oversight of the product did not produce a corresponding delay in the permitting of sales and distribution of cannabis products in California.

Federal Law. The Federal Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. section 801 to 889, makes it unlawful   to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess marijuana.  In early January, United States Attorney  General Jeff Sessions reversed a policy from the previous administration that kept federal authorities   from enforcing federal marijuana laws in states where the drug is legal.  It is now up to federal prosecutors in those states to determine how enforcement will be implemented (Exhibit 2).  There have  not been any specific indications or direction on how San Diego area prosecutors will act.  In the past, government officials have been cautioned that they are not immune from prosecution for enabling marijuana sales although none are known to have been actually charged.  Qualified Citizens’ Initiative.  In 2017, a citizens’ initiative garnered enough signatures to qualify for  placement on the November 2018 general election ballot.  The placement was formalized at the  September 26, 2017 City Council meeting.  The initiative would allow for one medicinal retailer per  10,000 residents in the city limits, to be located in the commercial, industrial and business park zoning districts, including the mixed-use zoning district, with certain conditions.  Within the permitted districts,   retailers could be in any location that is at least 600 feet from any pre-existing public or private K-12     school and 500 feet from any other permitted medicinal retailer.  The initiative would impose a seven percent special use tax on gross sales.  No other initiative has qualified since the September 26, 2017  meeting.

Agenda Location:   Discussion

SUBJECT:  UPDATE TO MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACCESS DISCUSSION

RECOMMENDATION:  Receive an update on medical marijuana, discuss options for permitting medical marijuana retailers, delivery, cultivation and testing, and provide direction to staff.

PRIOR ACTION:  On September 26, 2017, discussed options for permitting medical marijuana dispensaries, delivery, cultivation, and testing, and voted to maintain the status quo (commercial cannabis uses of all types are prohibited) for the time being (Vote: 3-2, Aguilera and Green opposed); and, directed staff to continue to evaluate options for permitting medical marijuana delivery, testing/research, and taxation (Vote: Consensus).

Please refer to Exhibit 1 for a complete list of prior City Council actions.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:  Last September, based on direction received by the City Council in June 2017, the City Council received an informational report on medicinal marijuana and directed staff to maintain the status quo, which prohibits all commercial cannabis uses, while continuing to evaluate options for permitting medicinal delivery, testing and research and taxation.  Specifically, members of the City Council requested information on the following:

  1.   Options to allow for medicinal retailers through a local ballot initiative;
  2.   Options to allow for medicinal delivery;
  3.    Medicinal marijuana research and/or testing facilities in the industrial park;
  4.    Medicinal marijuana cultivation in the industrial park; and
  5.   Opportunities to impose taxes and/or fees on the above-mentioned uses.

This report provides an update on the implementation of Proposition 64 at the state level, as well as a recent change to the federal government’s stance on marijuana.  The report also provides an update since the last report on local ballot initiatives, as well as how other cities in San Diego County are approaching the issue.

Following the background discussion, the report provides the City Council with information on each of the identified topics, outlines options for the City Council’s consideration, and asks for further direction.

Direction could be to maintain status quo, conduct additional research, or make modifications.

Other items on the agenda:

 

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  • Published: 2 months ago on February 12, 2018
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  • Last Modified: February 13, 2018 @ 9:34 am
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