SAN BERNARDINO >> A second citizen initiative to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the city will be on the ballot in November, after supporters turned in more than 7,000 signatures Monday.
The petitions will have to be checked to verify that they come from registered voters in the city, but proponents turned in nearly double the number required. They were turned in early enough that the measure — the San Bernardino Medical Cannabis Restrictions and Limitations Act — will be on the ballot in November, said City Clerk Gigi Hanna.
Earlier this month, the City Council reluctantly put another marijuana measure — the San Bernardino Regulate Marijuana Act of 2016, led by Upland-based California Cannabis Coalition — on the ballot, noting that the law allowed them only to either do that or to adopt the act.
And City Attorney Gary Saenz’s office is continuing to work on a countermeasure that would regulate marijuana on terms city officials consider more favorable.
If more than one of the measures receive more “yes” than “no” votes in November, the measure that received the most “yes” votes will become law.
Depending on the specifics of the city’s proposal, the group that submitted signatures Monday might wind up supporting it, said Randall Longwith, the Fullerton attorney and advocate behind the act.
“In Costa Mesa, we have an initiative on the ballot,” Longwith said. “We actually worked with the city to write their own that competes with ours. We’ve now dropped our support for ours, and we’re now campaigning for the city’s initiative. … I think (San Bernardino officials) can come up with a good ordinance themselves, if what they come up with gives dignified access.”
Longwith said he submitted his 21-page act despite the other initiative already moving forward because he thinks it will better provide access across the city along with security measures.
The initiative would allow up to 20 dispensaries in the city — a city should have about one for every 10,000 to 15,000 residents, Longwith said — but not within 600 feet of schools or 250 feet of churches, or in strictly residential zones.
“What’s happening in San Bernardino and cities in general is when they’re not regulated, that’s when the crime and the nuisance comes in,” he said. “When you have unregulated — we call them rogue — dispensaries, you have those nuisances. Once you ensure that these individuals must have permits and if they violate it they lose their permit, we’ve seen very little crime.”
Craig Beresh, leader of the California Cannabis Coalition, said that after briefly reviewing the other initiative he thinks his would be better from a job and revenue standpoint — he contends it would generate millions of dollars per year in revenue and 1,000 jobs.
But the multiple initiatives are a good sign, he said.
“We’re excited to hear that another initiative has been submitted,” Beresh said. “The fact that another citizen’s initiative gathered so many signatures under such time constraints further demonstrates the citizens’ desire to reform the current cannabis laws in San Bernardino.”