May 22, 2022

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National City says no to marijuana

2 min read

Commissioner Ditas Yamane cited a “lack of information”.

A year ago, when National City began drafting its first regulation to approve commercial cannabis, the city council even voted to include consumption lounges.

By then, the city was barely at the forefront of cannabis law, banning adult pharmacies weeks before California voters passed Proposition 64. But the proposal hit a pothole.

On Monday (March 15), the National Urban Planning Commission voted to oppose amendments to the city law that would allow the retail, distribution, cultivation and manufacture of medical marijuana.

The staff recommended approval, but only Commissioner Damian Roman supported the changes. Commissioner Ditas Yamane cited a “lack of information” as the city council continued to work out the details of the zone changes.

The new regulations would allow up to six businesses, including lounges, in the industrial areas and tourist business areas west of Interstate 5 where adults could buy, smoke, eat or drink marijuana.

According to employee reports, the tourist business zone currently allows uses “that are compatible with consumer lounges and retail outlets without having to make changes to the current zoning”.

In 2019, the city hired the cannabis consultants HdL, who, as part of the development agreement, gave the instructions for the regulation, public relations and a tax analysis of the income that could be generated through a community benefits fee (similar to a cannabis business tax) for every permitted cannabis business.

Surveys conducted by HdL found that more than half of those polled are strongly in favor of licensing cannabis companies in National City (64.29 percent were National City residents). More than 60 percent said they strongly support the use of medical marijuana.

The city’s ban on cannabis deals is not uncommon. Other prohibited cities include Coronado, Del Mar, El Cajon, Escondido, Poway, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach, and San Diego Counties.

The ones that allow cannabis stores for medicinal use only are Lemon Grove, Oceanside, and Vista. Cities where both medicinal and adult cannabis are legal include Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, San Diego, and Encinitas.

Attorney Jennifer Gilman said the National City ordinance needs to be brought into line with city and state rules and brought back to the planning committee. However, the commissioners could choose one of three options for the land use change initiated by the city: approve, reject, or continue article.

Commissioner Yamane recommended the rejection “based on the finding that land use is not a desirable or necessary use”.

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