Ban the Weed or Take the Money: Proposition 64

NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--The city of Carson is considering its options regarding recent changes to statewide cannabis regulation: ban commercial cannabis in a city-designated “drug-free” since 2008, or take what could be considerable tax revenue. 

Proposition 64, passed in 2016, legalized marijuana for “recreational” adult use starting in January 2018. To reconcile systems for regulation and enforcement, the governor has signed the Medicinal and Adult-use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. The state will soon issue licenses for marijuana businesses. 

At a city council meeting on Aug. 1, Assistant City Attorney Chris Neumeyer explained possible courses of action. 

“If cities are silent, likely state licenses will allow folks to operate [any licensed marijuana businesses] in that city,” he said. “Cities throughout California are asking, what are we going to do?” 

Carson inched toward answering that question by convening two special city council meetings on Sept. 23 and Sept. 28. They were also described as workshops — to “consider seeking the community’s input regarding” Prop. 64, according to the agenda. 

About 100 people attended the Sept. 28  meeting at the Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald Community Center. Council members Lula Davis-Holmes, Jawane Hilton, Elito Santarina and Cedric Hicks attended; Mayor Albert Robles did not. 

Attendees learned that the new state laws will allow personal adult use of marijuana and home cultivation of up to six plants (enough for one ounce). Cities may ban outdoor cultivation (in public view) and regulate but not ban indoor cultivation (in private). 

All operations must have state licenses but cities may impose additional requirements for local licenses or ban operations except private indoor cultivation. Torrance and Lomita have already banned all commercial activity.   

Carson already has a law to tax any allowed marijuana operations. There is a state excise tax on legal marijuana activity, and some of that money can go back to the local level, but only to cities that allow commercial marijuana. 

At both workshops, several panelists debated such activity. Matthew Eaton, a specialist in cannabis compliance, estimated perhaps 18,000 homes in Carson could be growing for personal use under the new law. 

Panelists Tyler Strause and Susan Marks advocated for medical marijuana to scattered applause.

Another panelist, community activist Dianne Thomas, an advocate for medical marijuana, noted dispensaries are only a 10-minute drive away. 

She produced statistics from the internet showing that three years after Colorado legalized marijuana, there has been a 58 percent increase in arrests of black and Latino minors; a majority of marijuana businesses are in communities of color. 

She compared banning commercial marijuana to keeping liquor stores out of minority neighborhoods. She received thunderous applause. 

Carson residents who commented at the Sept. 28 meeting were divided. Some suggested Carson allow commercial activity for the tax revenue. 

Others argued Carson is a “drug-free city,” referring to a council resolution passed in 2008, and minors should be discouraged from drug use.


(Lyn Jensen is Carson reporter for Random Lengths News  … where this report was first posted.)