CA: Jurupa Valley Voters To Decide Whether To Allow Commercial Marijuana

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Photo Credit: Stan Lim

Jurupa Valley voters will decide at the June 5 election whether to allow commercial marijuana in the city.

Measure A would require the city to allow marijuana businesses in its manufacturing-service commercial zone as long as the businesses meet basic requirements spelled out in the measure. Measure B, sponsored by the City Council, would continue the status quo: banning marijuana other than what’s allowed statewide by Proposition 64.

If both receive more than 50 percent of the vote, whichever receives more votes will become law.

“We’re hoping to replace the city’s failed prohibition with a regulated, taxable local marijuana marketplace that is actually sensible,” said Jason Thompson of Newport Beach-based Thompson Advocacy, the attorney for Measure A. “When we bring in a highly regulated facility that’s secured and that’s patrolled, we think it will make the city that much safer.”

Opponents — including the entire City Council — take issue with almost every claim in those two sentences.

First, Measure A would not include a local tax on marijuana. Rather, it will cost the city about $375,000 per year because it would probably require the city to hire two new code enforcement officers to enforce restrictions and someone in the City Clerk’s Office to handle additional demands, says the impartial ballot analysis by City Attorney Peter Thorson.

That’s because state law only allowed tax increases to be on the ballot when a majority of the City Council is up for election, Thompson said. To show they’re serious, he said, Jurupa Valley voters will see a different ballot measure that would include a marijuana tax on the November ballot.

The city’s proposed budget for 2018-19 would spend $34.8 million, a slight surplus.

The city also is making progress shutting down illegal dispensaries, although it consistently has about 12 operating illegally, said Councilman Verne Lauritzen. That includes a church that uses marijuana as part of its worship, which the city says is a front for selling pot.

When the city incorporated in 2011, it had 42 dispensaries, Lauritzen said.

And opponents of Measure A particularly bristle at the suggestion that allowing legal commercial marijuana dispensaries would make the city safer.

“There isn’t anything positive for a community and its quality of life with the proliferation of drug dispensing throughout the city,” Lauritzen said. “There just isn’t.”

Thompson said the six or seven dispensaries allowed by Measure A — the number depends on where they’re located — would drive out the illegal dispensaries because people will prefer to buy from regulated sources they know have a security guard and other protections.

If voters approve Measure A, the City Council must approve dispensaries in its commercial industrial zones that meet certain requirements:

• Comply with state laws

• Have at least one security guard during business hours

• Only one wall sign

• Hours of operation 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

• No more than $200 in reserves overnight

• No person under 21 allowed at non-medical exempted commercial marijuana facility

• Can’t be within 1,000 feet of two or more commercial marijuana facilities authorized by the initiative

• No dispensary within 600 feet of a K-12 school (doesn’t apply to daycare centers or youth centers)

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