A San Diego County community is exploring encouraging marijuana growers to take the place of an industry that once dominated the city’s farmland: Poinsettias.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Encinitas City Council agreed this week to start researching new regulations on marijuana growing in the city limits amid a surge in new housing construction that threatens much of the city’s farmland.
Encinitas isn’t the only community eyeing legalized cannabis as a cash cow and a job engine. The Central California town of Hanford is considering converting a tire plant into a marijuana mega-farm. Sacramento is looking into setting up a “neighborhood responsibility” fee for pot producers. And Humboldt County is leading the way in preserving water quality around cannabis grows.
“I think our agricultural industry desperately needs this opportunity to compete,” said Councilman Tony Kranz, according to the Union-Tribune. The vote was 4-1; Councilman Mark Muir, who opposed the measure, said he supported the right to medical marijuana use, but was concerned about problems related to allowing the grows.
Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear said she hoped to limit marijuana operations to organic growing only and added that “I’d also like it to be taxed as high as possible.”
Flower grower Bob Echter told the council that he was one of only a few growers left in the city, which bears a poinsettia on its city seal. He said that allowing marijuana growing could keep his business alive and many of his 90 workers employed.
Encinitas’ historic Paul Ecke Ranch was once the world’s largest supplier of poinsettias, but supply of the plants has largely shifted to ranches in Central America over the past few decades. The ranch property has been split up and sold off over the years.
At the same meeting, the council opposed allowing marijuana dispensaries within the city by a 3-2 vote.
Read the full story at SanDiegoUnionTribune.com.