UPLAND >> After months of deliberating, the City Council has unanimously agreed on a total ban of marijuana-related activity in the city.
It will soon be illegal to cultivate, dispense, transport, distribute, process, label and test marijuana in the city. The city’s municipal code currently bans medical marijuana dispensaries and mobile dispensaries.
The ordinance helps the city regulate marijuana if voters statewide approve Proposition 64 allowing recreational marijuana. Permanent regulations by the state aren’t expected to be enacted until 2018.
“Look around. How many cities have a ban? Every city,” said Councilwoman Carol Timm, who helped develop the total ban. “Do we want to be the (marijuana) mecca in Upland?”
At Monday’s meeting, the council heard and discussed the issue for more than two hours. At least 100 people filled the chambers, with two dozen publicly addressing the issue. The discussion at times was tense, as both sides accused each other of disseminating incorrect information on the impacts of marijuana.
“We have a different purview than you as an individual. We have to look at the whole city and how it’s going to affect the whole city,” Timm told those opposed to the ban.
Upland began discussing the ban almost a year ago when the City Council initially thought the statewide measure would require cities to institute a ban through an ordinance by a certain deadline or allow recreational marijuana.
Ultimately, that was not a requirement, giving the council the opportunity to pass a total ban on its own timeframe. While most cities passed measures without much fanfare or opposition, Upland officials grappled with how best to proceed.
In July, the council abandoned the idea to put the question before voters in the November election. Creating a ballot measure could have limited the city’s power on the total ban and would mean going back to the voters for any changes, officials determined.
In addition, some council members wanted to wait until the Nov. 8 election to see how residents vote on the state and local ballot measures. Besides the statewide proposition, Upland voters will weigh in onMeasure U, which would allow up to three medical marijuana dispensaries to operate legally in the city.
Councilwoman Debbie Stone, who motioned the council approved the all-out ban had one caveat: The council should recognize “this ordinance can be altered, if we need to, once the community has voted.”
Craig Beresh, president of the California Cannabis Coalition, which is backing Measure U, said the council should have waited until after the election,.
“You’re wasting the city’s money and time. (Prop) 64 hasn’t even passed yet, and you’re already writing a ban,” he said.
Beresh said the total ban just makes it difficult for medical marijuana users to obtain the product, saying they will be forced into alleyways to get their medicine.
“You’ve closed yourself to the idea, and it’s the people you are hurting, the patients you are hurting,” Beresh said.
The prohibition does not apply to qualified patients with properly issued identification cards. Those patients will be allowed to continue to cultivate and use marijuana for their own medical purposes, as permitted by state law, said Upland’s Development Services Director Jeff Zwack.
Despite voting for the ban, Councilman Gino Filippi continued to raise questions. He asked why Upland hasn’t studied the revenue benefit of medical marijuana.
“Why the rush? I’m more in the position that we should wait for the voters to tell us what they want,” he said.
Filippi added that residents have accused him of being pro-pot because of his stance. He said he didn’t have to respond to those comments or questions.
“My job is to keep an open mind, and I’ve talked to physicians and police chiefs. If I’m not listening and being open-minded, then I’m not doing my job,” he said.
The ban will become effective 30 days from Monday’s meeting.