Poway residents will need to get in their cars and take a drive to purchase recreational marijuana next year.
The City Council Tuesday night solidified regulations it first put into effect last year banning pot dispensaries in the city, a move criticized by some for denying city coffers what could be sizable sales tax revenues in the years to come.
“Some cities are using the revenue generated by marijuana stores to improve their communities,” said resident Nancy Jalaty, who said she was neutral on the issue. “Did Poway do any analysis to determine what amount of revenue they are leaving on the table by saying no? — Better to have the revenue go to a city that regulates it properly than to a criminal.”
“I am not neutral on this,” Mayor Steve Vaus responded later. “There is no amount of money that would make me vote to support the commercial sales of marijuana in Poway. Period.”
By unanimous vote, the council approved the first reading of an ordinance that permanently prohibits the establishment of marijuana dispensaries, collectives and cooperatives, and prohibits marijuana cultivation, delivery, manufacturing and storage, whether for medical or recreational use throughout the city.
Once finalized later this month, the ordinance will not prohibit the personal use of marijuana and residents will still be allowed grow up to six plants per person inside their homes. However outdoor cultivation will be prohibited.
Last November, voters statewide approved Proposition 64 which legalized marijuana use for people 21 years of age or older, and allowed the state to regulate the cultivation, testing, and sale of nonmedical pot.
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However state law allows local jurisdictions to adopt ordinance that regulate marijuana businesses.
“We’re not prohibiting marijuana in the city in any fashion,” Vaus said. “We’re simply saying there aren’t going to be any commercial establishments to make it available to our people.”
Of the five public speakers during the brief hearing, two said they saw both sides of the issue and three fully supported the prohibition saying studies show a rise in crime and impaired driving accidents in state’s where pot has ben legalized.
“Poway is the safest city in the county. There’s a reason for that,” said Councilman Barry Leonard. “We support our law enforcement folks and we do what’s right to protect our children.”
Councilman John Mullin said its true that the entire council has thought about the prospects of marijuana sales being a revenue generator. “But in my mind it’s too high a price to pay,” he said.
“If you build it here they will come. I’d rather have those who are in that market go outside of Poway rather than have the reverse be true.”