Chula Vista Aims to Regulate Pot from Plant to Puff - NBC 7 San Diego
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In the Weeds

Marijuana in the Golden State and beyond

Chula Vista Aims to Regulate Pot from Plant to Puff

What's unique about Chula Vista's ordinance is that it also would include businesses involved in the growing and testing of marijuana - something other cities have rejected.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chula Vista Marijuana Ordinance Debated

    NBC 7’s Melissa Adan reports on the potential for Chula Vista to become the most pot-friendly place in San Diego County.

    (Published Friday, March 2, 2018)

    A city south of San Diego could become one of the most pot-friendly cities in the state of California under a recently approved ordinance.

    City council members in Chula Vista approved an ordinance Tuesday allowing for either dispensaries, retail delivery, storefronts, and cultivation.

    Twelve businesses would be allowed with three in each of the city's four districts. No more than two of the businesses would be storefronts.

    What's unique about Chula Vista's ordinance is that it also would include businesses involved in the growing and testing of marijuana - something other cities have rejected.

    “The idea is that you could have the cultivation here within the city, there could be the testing labs, manufacturing and then, distribution as well,” said Deputy City Manager Kelley Bacon.

    Ten cultivators at 20,000 square feet would be permitted. Testing and manufacturing facilities would also be allowed under the ordinance.

    Bacon said all of those businesses would mean jobs. The cannabis industry has developed a variety of jobs beyond , delivery drivers to so-called "budtenders." Other jobs that would be created within the city would be those ranging from inventory supply managers to compliance officers.

    It's a little bit of a turnaround here in Chula Vista, and it's not a done deal.

    City employees will work on a cannabis tax ballot measure for November 2018. If the ballot measure is rejected by voters, the new marijuana regulations will not go into effect.

    The industry could generate $6 million in revenue for the South Bay city that has been challenged with public safety resources and staffing.

    Bacon believes that's a conservative estimate. The City of San Diego has estimated up to $22 million in revenue from gross receipts by mid-2019.

    “We hope it doesn't hurt Chula Vista in any way. This is new. For many of us, scary. It's just not something a lot of us have experience with,” Bacon said.

    Bacon said city officials have been discussing new regulations with officials in other cities where recreational marijuana has been legalized including those in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nevada.

    “There are other cities that have cannabis ordinances in place, a lot longer than CV. There has always been this model of cannabis sales in other locations. I don’t see people mobbing here in the millions or thousands just for cannabis sales,” said Michelle Luna Reynoso, an attorney representing the state of California.

    The ordinance in Chula Vista differs from other cities because delivery businesses not connected to an established storefront would be able to apply for a permit. Customers must be 21 or over and order from a physical location.

    Chula Vista appears to be very open to working with businesses surrounding the recreational marijuana industry, said Jim Sprouse, founder of Cannabis Tax and Accounting Services and a board member for the San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance.

    Just last week, Escondido passed an ordinance considered to be one of the toughest in the state.

    Customers in other cities could be able to order marijuana from a Chula Vista-based delivery service if there are no local ordinances in their community banning the practice, Sprouse said.

    If voters approve the sales tax initiative tied to cannabis, the licensing process could open in April 2019. 

    Chula Vista has current regulations that have closed 35 illegal dispensaries within city limits. Eight similar dispensaries are still open.

    California voters passed Proposition 64 in November 2016, allowing those over age 21 to legally use marijuana, and the sale of the drug to be taxed. The new regulations went into effect on Jan.1, 2017.

    Previously, marijuana was legal only for medicinal purposes and with a doctor's authorization.

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