The San Diego City Council voted to legalize marijuana farms, edible factories, and storefronts that sell to both recreational and medical consumers.
California voters approved Prop. 64 and legalized recreational marijuana last November. Sales are expected to begin in January of 2018.
But this does not mean that a uniform set of rules for recreational marijuana sales are automatically in place for the entire Golden State. Local governments can make adjustments to marijuana regulations. This week, the San Diego City Council, by a vote of 6-3, has decided to allow local recreational marijuana production.
The vote by the council builds on another move regarding local regulations. Earlier this year, the council ruled that existing medical marijuana dispensaries are eligible to expand sales to recreational customers.
While the majority of the City Council decided to green light local production, the decision is not universally supported. Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman feels the new rules will threaten public safety and will outweigh new taxes and jobs created.
“We’ve fielded 273 radio calls from those establishments so far this year, everything from violent robberies to a shooting and those calls will increase,” Zimmerman said according to ABC 10 News.
City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf echoed Chief Zimmerman’s sentiments.
“I think we should listen to our police chief,” Zapf said according to the LA Times. “We were elected if nothing else to oversee public safety, and we’re just absolutely going down the wrong road.”
However, a century of prohibition has not exactly created a Utopian society. Lack of access to medicine, the War on Drugs, and the proliferation of black markets have been all too common since marijuana was first demonized.
Members of the City Council are seeking to limit the black market’s impact in San Diego.
“If we don’t allow all parts of the supply chain in San Diego, we are merely enabling a large black market,” Councilwoman Barbara Bry said. “San Diego consumers are counting on us to provide them a safe product.”
Councilman Chris Ward thinks that keeping things local will allow the local marijuana industry to run smoother.
“Having sound policy and regulations in place will allow the city to enforce its rules and assist the cannabis industry in regulating itself,” Ward said. “Would we tell Stone Brewery that we wanted them to manufacture everything in Riverside County and truck it down? Would we tell Ballast Point they can only grow their hops up in Humboldt?”