San Bernardino’s commercial cannabis regulations will appear on the November ballot, a move intended to clear up two years of muck surrounding marijuana businesses in town.
City leaders last week gave voters the opportunity to weigh in on rules they unanimously adopted earlier this year.
Councilman John Valdivia opposed their inclusion on the ballot.
Should a majority of voters approve San Bernardino’s regulations, lawsuits regarding 2016 measures O and N would likely be rendered moot, according to the city.
San Bernardino could realize significant litigation cost savings as a result.
“This is our opportunity,” Councilman Henry Nickel said, “in partnership with the industry, partnership with the community that does support regulation … to finally put this to rest once and for all.”
In recent months, city staffers have met with the San Bernardino Cannabis Community Association to discuss the regulations city leaders put into place in March.
The collaboration resulted in a handful of changes council members approved on Wednesday, Aug. 1.
Notably, cannabis business licenses will be valid for three years instead of one. While business owners still must pay annual fees, they needn’t go through the license renewal process annually. The council also struck down certain signage policies it originally put into place specifically for the cannabis industry.
Per the revisions, cannabis businesses must adhere to the same signage rules as other businesses.
Additionally, the council clarified a section prohibiting certain people from receiving permits, a due-process issue over which the city is being challenged in court.
Mark Estermyer, interim president of the cannabis community association, said his group was “100 percent” behind the city placing its commercial marijuana ordinance on the ballot.
“There’s no doubt in my mind” the measure will pass, he said. “This was the best move the city could have ever done.”
San Bernardino voters also will decide whether to implement a cannabis tax that could generate between $810,000 and $2.4 million annually in revenue, according to HdL Companies, the city’s cannabis consultant. That money would be available to fund various city expenses, including police services.