Jurupa Valley voters could soon decide whether to allow commercial marijuana sales in the city.
A ballot initiative seeking to legalize dispensaries in Jurupa Valley received enough signatures to qualify for an election, the Riverside County Registrar of Voters determined last month.
Now, the City Council must decide what step to take next.[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]The city’s options include adopting the initiative outright, ordering a report looking at the fiscal and land-use impacts of the proposal or to immediately schedule a special election, according to a staff report from City Attorney Peter Thorson.
If the council proceeds straight to an election, it could be held in early December. If a report is ordered — which would be completed by Oct. 5 — the election could be held in early January. However, Thorson stated a provision in state election law could allow the city to delay a vote until June, when the city’s costs would be lower as it would be combined with a regular election.
Mayor Verne Lauritzen said he believes the city should order a comprehensive report on what the proposal’s impacts. He said there are still some unanswered questions.
Jurupa Valley has banned both medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries in the past. Lauritzen said it would be a “serious mistake” to change that but it will be up to voters to decide.
“They’re going to have an opportunity to choose what kind of community they want and what kind of influence they want over their young people,” he said.
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Jason Thompson, an attorney representing the measure’s proponents, called it sensible for the city to study the measure’s impacts but said the council should save the city’s costs of an election and adopt the initiative.
The measure would allow commercial marijuana activity legalized under Prop. 64. — which state voters approved last November — “from seed to sale,” Thompson said. Such businesses would be allowed in the city’s manufacturing commercial zones, which represents a small part of the city, Thompson said.
Jurupa Valley residents have already shown their support through the passage of Prop. 64 and the signatures gathered for the local measure, he said. He said marijuana sales are already taking place in the city but have been driven underground. The measure would allow the city to regulate where it takes place and tax its sales, Thompson said.
“Now it’s time for the city to get with the advancement made at the state level and start trying a new approach because what they’ve done in the past clearly isn’t working,” Thompson said.
In his report, Thorson said the measure does not include a way to tax their sales but Thompson said if the initiative is adopted by the council or voters, the city can then approve a tax.
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Some other Inland communities have started taking steps to regulate commercial marijuana sales.
Last November, voters in Perris and San Bernardino approved local measures allowing for some marijuana businesses.
More recently, two Riverside County supervisors have proposed allowing them in unincorporated areas and could put a pot tax on the November 2018 ballot.