Port Hueneme medical marijuana ordinance will move forward

Port Hueneme is another step closer to allowing medical cannabis to be grown, sold and delivered after the City Council voted for such an ordinance Monday night.

The council will consider a final adoption of the ordinance when it meets at 6:30 p.m. June 5, Port Hueneme City Manager Rod Butler said Tuesday.

Monday’s 4-1 vote came after numerous people spoke in favor of the ordinance, Butler said. Councilwoman Sylvia Muñoz Schnopp cast the sole vote against the proposal.

The city must still make numerous decisions related to medical cannabis, including whether it will impose a direct business tax on cannabis-related businesses, Butler said. The city might put such a proposal before voters in 2018.

“The ordinance as it stands now will allow medical dispensaries, delivery and product testing and cultivation,” he said.

City officials have estimated medical cannabis could add anywhere from $400,000 to $1 million a year to city coffers and the city’s economy after businesses open their doors, with even more revenue coming in later, Councilman Jim Hensley said Tuesday.

Hensley said the added money is very welcome as Port Hueneme faces numerous financial difficulties.

The city’s general fund is expected to receive $1.2 million less than what was originally forecast because of allocation irregularities. Port Hueneme also owes the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development $2.4 million because of bad account practices.

The council’s vote on medical cannabis comes more than six months after California voters approved the legalization of recreational pot in November. Proposition 64 allows the recreational use of marijuana for adults in California.

The proposition does give local governments some say on growing and selling marijuana. Many Ventura County cities have in the past banned the large-scale cultivation and sale of pot.

But now, local governments across California, are reconsidering overturning bans on medical marijuana, in part, because of the added revenue that a legal and regulated cannabis industry can provide them.

The Fillmore City Council unanimously approved a plan earlier this year to require a permit to those growing pot for recreational purposes.

In November, Ojai became the first city in Ventura County to approve licensing for delivery and pickup of medical marijuana.

As for Port Hueneme, Butler said he expects the city’s first legal cannabis businesses won’t be ready to open until the end of the year or very possibly sometime in 2018.

One reason for the wait is what Butler called a “rigorous background check for those who want to operate a cannabis-related business.”

Butler, who was the city manager of Upland in San Bernardino County before being hired in Port Hueneme last year, said he’s been struck by the lack of any members of the public speaking in opposition to a medical pot ordinance in Port Hueneme.

“We’ve probably had seven or eight public meetings on whether to allow the cannabis industry in Port Hueneme since I’ve been here,” Butler said Tuesday. So far, “I cannot recall a single person who’s spoken in opposition.”

Butler said this was quite a contrast to Upland “where there was extensive opposition.”

Hensley, meanwhile, said the Port Hueneme ordinance comes as many dramatic new scientific discoveries are being made about the beneficial uses of cannabis.

“This is an exciting time right now for the (cannabis) field,” he said.

Hensley noted that there are at least four marijuana distributors that are ready to do business in Port Hueneme.

He said a vibrant cannabis industry could make Port Hueneme a destination hub for out of town visitors.

“We’re looking at changing the whole vision of the city,” Hensley said.

Original article: http://www.vcstar.com/story/news/2017/05/24/port-hueneme-one-step-closer-permitting-medical-marijuana-industry-city/340842001/

 


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