Chula Vista wrote recreational marijuana regulations in March, but the city’s voters will have the final say in November.
That’s because those regulations only go into effect if voters approve Measure Q, a cannabis sales tax measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Chula Vista’s marijuana regulations came from a growing sense of frustration with illegal pot shops and pressure from outside special interest groups threatening to pass their own cannabis regulations with a citizen’s initiative.
Council members feared a citizen’s initiative would be too lax and hoped that by writing their own rules and taxing legal businesses the city could fund enforcement measures against the illegal shops.
“A limited and carefully controlled cannabis market is better than an unlimited black market,” Mayor Mary Casillas Salas wrote in a letter supporting Measure Q.
The measure is expected to generate $6 million a year in tax revenues.
Chula Vista’s regulations allow no more than two retail storefronts in each of the city’s four council districts. In addition to the two dispensaries, each district can have one delivery business.
The city’s rules permit up to 10 cultivation facilities. Those businesses must be indoors, control odors, have no public access and be limited to industrial areas.
Chula Vista’s rules allow an unlimited number of testing and manufacturing businesses. Like the cultivation facilities, testing and manufacturing sites must be in industrial zones and have no public access.
Those rules could create the biggest marijuana marketplace in San Diego County.
The city of San Diego’s regulations prohibit delivery, cultivation, testing and manufacturing businesses.
Chula Vista’s cap on marijuana retailers — including dispensaries and delivery services — is limited to 12. While that cap is lower than San Diego’s limit of 36 dispensaries, Chula Vista could have more cannabis shops per capita than San Diego because San Diego’s population is more than four times larger than Chula Vista’s.
Cannabis prohibitionists submitted two letters outlining their arguments against Measure Q.
The opposition’s biggest criticism against the measure is that revenue from the sales tax isn’t legally required to be spent on law enforcement.
Measure Q is for a general tax, which means that it only needs 51 percent of the vote to pass and revenues from the measure will go into the city’s general fund. The general fund pays for a wide range of city programs including law enforcement, infrastructure repairs, and services like parks maintenance and library staffing.
“Not one penny is earmarked for enforcement,” wrote a group against the measure.
Although the city claims the $6 million in revenues will pay for enforcement, they have not published information about projected enforcement costs, according to the group.
The prohibitionists’ letters also argue that recreational marijuana will tarnish the city’s family-friendly image, harm children and increase crime rates.
The letters don’t mention that only adults 21 and older are legally allowed to buy marijuana or that legal dispensaries in San Diego did not attract a significant amount of crime.
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