The Simi Valley City Council made it clear this week that it wants to take a “go slow” approach to Proposition 64, which a year ago legalized marijuana use statewide for persons 21 years or older.
The council on Monday night unanimously passed an urgency ordinance which temporarily extends a ban the council adopted late last year that was due to expire Dec. 3. The council also introduced a non-urgency ordinance that, when adopted at a future meeting, will more permanently extend the ban.
The urgency ordinance leaves in place prohibitions of outdoor cultivation of marijuana plants at residences, marijuana deliveries to and from locations in the city, commercial non-medical marijuana activities, and smoking and ingesting marijuana in public places.[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]All those activities except consuming marijuana in public, are permitted under Proposition 64, but can be banned by cities.
Simi Valley’s ban does not restrict the personal indoor use of marijuana or the indoor cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, which the proposition allows and which local jurisdictions cannot prohibit.
The council took its actions Monday night because under Proposition 64, “the state says, ‘OK cities, if you don’t have ordinances as of Jan. 1, you’ll be susceptible to state law,’ ” Stratis Perros, Simi Valley’s deputy environmental services director/city planner, said Tuesday.
“And so, by saying ‘no’ last night to all the commercial activities and everything else, it allows us to, in our own time, decide what we want to change,” he said.
The council asked city staff to research questions and concerns it has about the prohibited marijuana practices and report back to it within 120 days for further consideration.
“This is not the final decision,” Mayor Bob Huber said as about 15 marijuana advocates in the audience, as well as a few opponents, looked on. “It’s interim.”
Various council members made it clear they want to take a “go slow” approach to the city’s Proposition 64 marijuana policies.
“Those are a lot of questions we have to decide,” said Councilwoman Dee Dee Cavanaugh. “So, I really feel we need more time to find the answers to all these questions.”
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Councilman Glen Becerra agreed, saying, “there are a ton of questions. And every time I think I know as much as I need to know, I learn more. We’re not trying to slow the process, but this is a really important issue to us.”
Certain council members tipped their hands as to where they stand on certain practices allowed by the proposition, but which cities can ban.
Becerra, for instance, said he’s not in favor of marijuana dispensaries in Simi Valley.
“Maybe I’m out of touch … but I don’t think dispensaries are a good thing for this community,” he said.
Huber said he’s against marijuana deliveries in Simi Valley. He said former Simi Valley Police Chief Mitch McCann told the council after Proposition 64 passed that drugs other than marijuana, including cocaine and methamphetamines, are also sometimes delivered by marijuana delivery services.
“I feel very strongly — no deliveries in this family-oriented community,” Huber said.
When the council next takes up Proposition 64 issues, it will consider recommendations by the city Planning Commission and the city’s four neighborhood councils. Some of those recommendations were not followed by the City Council Monday night.
The commission, for instance, on Oct. 18 supported the continuing bans, but with two exceptions. The commission unanimously recommended the city allow marijuana deliveries by state-licensed delivery services and permit marijuana testing laboratories, according to a memo to the council from the city’s environmental services director, Peter Lyons.
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In general, the neighborhood council executive boards voted to recommend allowing outdoor cultivation of personal marijuana plants at private residences, deliveries of marijuana to residences and commercial nonmedical activities consistent with state standards, Lyons wrote.
Before the council passed the urgency ordinance and introduced the more permanent ordinance Monday night, about 10 public speakers urged the council to take a more liberal approach to marijuana as permitted under Proposition 64.
“Let me talk for a little bit about the benefits of allowing safe access” to marijuana, said Simi Valley pharmacist Sally Miller. “There are studies that show that communities allowing access have lower rates of opioid addiction. (Medical) dispensaries will often create jobs in a city — managers, security guards — and dispensaries pay rent and pay taxes. Cannabis sales also potentially generate (sales) tax revenues.”
A handful of speakers spoke in support of the bans.
“I’m speaking from the perspective of a property owner, property manager and a landlord who has many concerns,” said Maggie Kestly of Simi Valley. “In fact, I actually have a list of about 25 questions that no one at this moment has any answers to, such as how will the activities of these businesses be monitored (and) who will ensure that the methods used to do things like extract THC are safe.”
In a letter to the council, the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce said it supports the city’s “go slow” approach.
In Lyons’ memo to the council, City Manager Eric Levitt emphasized the bans “will make the city ineligible for specific state grants.”
Perros said cities that choose to allow marijuana sales will be eligible for state grants that will supplement public safety efforts related to marijuana.
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Like Simi Valley, some other cities in Ventura County are prohibiting outdoor cultivation and commercial marijuana activities. They include Fillmore and Moorpark.
But other cities in the county are taking a more liberal approach.
The Ventura City Council voted Oct. 9 to allow medical marijuana deliveries from one of up to five locally licensed dispensaries. The dispensaries can’t be based within city limits or located outside the county.
Ventura residents could get their marijuana from businesses in Port Hueneme and Ojai, where such activity is allowed. Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, Santa Paula and the county are also considering allowing some type of commercial marijuana enterprise.
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