A temporary ban on certain marijuana activities in San Bernardino was extended Thursday, giving city leaders up to 10 months and 15 days to adopt marijuana regulations.
Prolonging the ban keeps the regulation process in the city’s hands. The ban can be ended sooner should regulations be adopted before it expires.
Thursday, council members stressed the importance of getting an ordinance on the books as quickly as possible; it is believed regulating the industry would combat the black market, generate new tax revenue and halt the sale of marijuana to minors.
Potential regulations could be brought before the city council as early as next week, city officials said.
A tentative schedule for adopting new marijuana regulations forecasts the drafting of an ordinance in March. Subsequent public hearings would be held by the planning commission and the city council for a late-May adoption.
Council members said Thursday they would like to see that timeline expedited.
“We do need to get this done in short order,” Councilman Henry Nickel said from the dais. “The industry deserves this, the consumers deserve this and the community deserves this. The limbo needs to be put to an end.”
Councilman Fred Shorett said he wants any law adopted by the council to be “bulletproof.”
Measure O – the voter-approved ballot measure requiring the city to allow dispensaries in a handful of areas – currently is law, though in December San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge David Cohn tentatively ruled the measure invalid.
Cohn’s final, written decision is expected any day now.
Ray Mason, 59, spoke before the council Thursday, a week after his medical marijuana dispensary, Think Plant, off East Highland Avenue, was raided and red-tagged by city code enforcement officers.
Mason – who said later his dispensary, like many others in town, opposed Measure O’s passage – questioned why his shop was targeted when there are other, more visible shops operating in plain view.
“I’m trying to do things the right way,” said Mason, a U.S. veteran. “Set a decent example for my kids. And for things to go sideways, I can’t understand the fairness. When does this harassment stop?”
Mason’s business partner and friend, Kim Smith, also spoke Thursday, detailing the good their alternative marijuana products do – did – for those with terminal illnesses. Smith’s family has been ravaged by cancer, and cannabis oils and gummies alleviate pain better than other medications, she said.
Councilman John Valdivia said the time is now to address an issue that isn’t new to San Bernardino. Valdivia noted an increase in illegal dispensaries over the past few years, as well as the failure of any moratorium to curtail new shops from setting root in the city.
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“It’s time we protect the safety of our children, our stakeholders and community members,” he said. “We’re in charge of policy making, and we have to make sure we put together a good tool that serves the quality of life of our community.
“We’ve been waiting on this way too long.”
In December, an advisory committee formed by the city council a few months prior submitted to the body potential cannabis regulations. Those recommendations have not been discussed publicly by the city council, Valdivia said. “That’s a big disservice given (the committee’s) efforts.”
Councilman James Mulvihill echoed his peers’ calls for urgency but noted that the council is responsible for all residents, not only the 55 percent who voted for marijuana regulation in 2016.
“We’re responsible for making law,” Mulvihill said. “We have to make it right for all of the residents.”
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