This past November over two-thirds of California voters let their voices be heard at the polls, approving Proposition 64.
Prop. 64 allowed adults aged 21 years or older to possess and use marijuana for recreational purposes. The measure created two new taxes, one levied on cultivation and the other on retail price.
Prop. 64 was designed to raise tax revenue to be spent on drug research, treatment, enforcement, health and safety grants addressing marijuana, youth programs, and preventing environmental damage resulting from illegal marijuana production.
Since the passage of Prop. 64, several municipalities in Santa Barbara County have been trying to decide how to deal with the election outcome. Lompoc formed an ad-hoc committee in December 2016 with council members Jenelle Osborne and Victor Vega. The committee was formed after the City Council declined to move forward with several marijuana ordinances proposed by staff.
During one of its August meetings, the room was packed with both supporters and opponents. The city attorney discussed some options for the council to consider. The floor was then opened for public comment. The majority of speakers favored the use of marijuana and implored the council to allow the sale and growing of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use.
Upon hearing public comment, council members voted to allow both kinds of usage and to send the item back to the ad-hoc committee for further work.
Santa Barbara County has also formed an ad-hoc committee with 1st District Supervisor Das Williams and 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino. The committee held three public town hall and two environmental impact report meetings to hear from residents.
The county also formed five working groups to address issues associated with the passage of this proposition. Those issues are land-use and development-code amendments, business licensing, a tax measure, health impacts and enforcement planning.
At a recent meeting, the Board of Supervisors appeared to be split on the options given by staff. After hearing public comment, reviewing all the work that has been done, a consensus couldn’t be arrived at. Subsequently, the board dissolved the ad-hoc committee at the end of its meeting.
What’s important to recognize is the city of Lompoc is attempting to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana for personal use, whereas the county was attempting to regulate the large cultivation of marijuana on ag land.
Prop. 64 legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 years or older, permitting smoking in a private home or at a business licensed for on-site marijuana consumption. Smoking was to remain illegal while driving a vehicle, anywhere smoking tobacco is, and in all public places. Up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana are legal to possess under this measure.
However, possession on the grounds of a school, day-care center or youth center while children are present remains illegal. An individual is permitted to grow up to six plants within a private home, as long as the area is locked and not visible from a public place.
According to this proposition, businesses need to acquire a state license to sell marijuana for recreational use. Local governments could also require them to obtain a local license. Businesses were not authorized by the proposition to sell within 600 feet of a school, day-care center or youth center. The initiative also prevented licenses for large-scale marijuana businesses for five years in order to prevent "unlawful monopoly power.”