Chula Vista City council postpones vote on pot dispensaries

Posted at 11:31 PM, Feb 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-07 02:31:41-05

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- City Leaders in Chula Vista won't make a decision about legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana until later this month. 

After listening to hours of public comment, the city council agreed to take another look at some aspects of the draft proposal.  The ordinance would allow the city to permit, license and fully regulate commercial marijuana.

RELATED: Chula Vista to consider legalizing pot shops

Even though voters approved the use of recreational pot in 2016, cities still have the final say and selling it in Chula Vista remains illegal. 

If passed, the measure would allow for twelve commercial licenses, including eight store fronts. A pot shop must be at least 150 feet from homes. 

The ordinance also requires an applicant to have at least a year of experience operating a legal marijuana business. After hearing complaints during public testimony,  city leaders agreed to reconsider that requirement. 

Daniel Green has been wanting to start a marijuana business in Chula Vista for 10 years, but as it stands now, he doesn't have the experience needed.

"To have to operate a lawful cannabis business for one year disqualifies everybody that is self contained in the city and if you're going to take it to the other section which is the 36 months of pharmaceutical alcohol-related business, I understand their intent, but I don't think it can be practically applied," said Green. 

Green said city leaders are making progress, but still have a way to go. 

"I think a lot of people are realizing this now, prop 64 was passed by the people, even people in this city, majority passed the proposition, so I think they might not be the most outspoken. There's still a stigma that we are past the tipping point. As soon as people get over that this is some type of evil thing and start to just embrace that it's going to be here one way or another, it's better to control it, it's better to tax it,  better to let people come out of the shadows," said Green. 

The city has struggled to deal with pot shops operating illegally; 35 have been shut down in the last year with roughly 8 still operating. 

The final say is still up to voters.  Once an ordinance is passed, the issue of taxing recreational marijuana will go before voters in June. Cannabis would not be legal until January of 2019 at the earliest, and only if a cannabis sales tax is passed by voters. 

The city council will take up the issue again on February 20.