POMONA — Questions related to commercial marijuana operations, and the city’s interest in a permitting plan for the drug’s cultivation for personal use were among the queries that came up during the first of a series of community meetings about pot.

About 40 people gathered at Washington Park Community Center recently where they were briefed on the voter approved Proposition 64, also known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, and the steps the city is taking leading to the establishment of local regulations involving the use of marijuana for recreational use.

[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]The purpose of the meeting, the first of three scheduled to take place around the city, was to provide a means by which residents could express their opinions associated with cannabis.

“We’re here to listen to you,” Mayor Tim Sandoval told the audience.

Also present at the Community Center were Council members Rubio Gonzalez, Adriana Robledo, Cristina Carrizosa and Elizabeth Ontiveros-Cole.

Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jared explained that on Nov. 8, 2016 California voters approved Proposition 64. Under Proposition 64 it became legal the day after the election for people 21 and older to use marijuana and to cultivate a maximum of six marijuana plants per residence.

At this time, the state is preparing for Jan. 1, 2018 when the state will oversee the cultivation, testing and distribution of nonmedical marijuana along with the manufacturing of nonmedical marijuana products.

While that is taking place, cities who wish to have a say in the regulation of recreational marijuana within their boundaries must take action before Jan. 1.

Pomona City officials took a step toward establishing local regulations on July 17 when City Council members gave preliminary approval to a proposed ordinance. Under the proposal, permits would be required to carry out the indoor cultivation of marijuana for personal use. The same proposal calls for prohibiting the use of marijuana in the same place were tobacco use is banned. A final vote on the proposal is expected in September.

Later this month, a proposed ordinance will be to the city’s Planning Commission and some time later to the City Council calling for a ban on commercial marijuana activity across the city.

During the community meeting, audience member Chase Elmore asked why it was necessary to have a permit to cultivate marijuana for personal use when the city should be showing interest in having commercial marijuana operations. Commercial operations could become a source of revenue for needed local services.

“It seems to me you’re not interested in any of the positives,” Elmore said.

Jared said the city is requiring a permit to grow plants for personnel use as a means to prevent other problems that could result without the permitting and monitoring plan.

“If we do nothing we could have bad people, bad operators, and we would be stuck with them,” Jared said.

At this point, it’s better to set limits that protect the city and the community then watch how the marijuana industry develops, Jared said. Depending on how things progress, the city can make adjustments.

“We can always open the doors” later, he said.

Pomona resident Virginia Madrigal said the city should take a wait-and-see approach before moving beyond the cultivation of marijuana for personal use.

“Let other cities start and then lets see what happens,” Madrigal said. “If it does become feasible it can change.”

Some audience members said the city should not limit marijuana cultivation to indoor areas.

Jared said the purpose of the restriction – be it in their house, a greenhouse or a shed – is meant to prevent the theft and other crimes associated with trying to acquire the plants illegally but also to prevent underage youth from accessing marijuana.

Others said the city should provide the opportunity for medical marijuana dispensaries do business in the city.

Since 2008, Pomona has had a ban on all medical marijuana dispensaries.

After the meeting, Pomona resident James Bryan said medical marijuana dispensaries play a role in the treatment of health issues of residents like himself.

In 2012, Bryan required the use of 16 different medications. With the help of medical marijuana, he has been able to go from 16 to four different medicines, said Bryan, who is a cancer survivor, has survived a heart attack and is diabetic.

Bryan said he goes to San Bernardino to obtain the medical marijuana he uses to address his medical conditions but it would be far more convenient if he could purchase it locally.

He could try to grow his own marijuana but “I don’t think I could grow any plant,” he said.

“To me, the safest way to go would be to have dispensaries with security guards,” Bryan said, adding such establishment would ensure the safety of clients.

Two more community meetings will take place in the coming weeks. Both are set to begin at 6:30 p.m. and are scheduled for:

• Wednesday, Aug. 30 at Ganesha Park Community Center, 1575 N. White Ave.

• Wednesday, Sept. 6 at Westmont Park Community Center, 1808 W. Ninth St.

For additional information, call 909-620-2376.

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