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Fullerton, CA dispensaries may become a reality

On Tuesday, the Fullerton City Council discussed a proposed ordinance during a meeting to regulate commercial cannabis activity, but no decision was made that night.

Matt Foulkes, the community and economic development director, presented the council with a summary of the commercial cannabis community outreach efforts over the last six months. The presentation provided the city staff and planning commission with more direction on the ordinance in regulating the activity within Fullerton.

In 2017, one year after recreational cannabis use became legal in California, the city of Fullerton adopted an ordinance to prohibit all marijuana usage, including both medicinal and recreational dispensaries.

“If you see a dispensary operating in the city, it is operating illegally. If there is a cultivation facility absent outside of a private residence, it is operating illegally,” Foulkes said.

When California passed Proposition 64, it allowed adults who are 21 and older to possess and grow a specified amount of marijuana for recreational use.

Foulkes went on to say that at any given time, there are between four to six commercial cannabis establishments operating illegally within the city. But in compliance with due process requirements, it takes the city six or more months to shut down the dispensaries.

The recommendations provided in the draft ordinance outlined that dispensaries would be permitted to retail, manufacture, cultivate, transport or distribute and test within certain limits.

Retail cannabis will be allowed in general commercial zones, but will not be permitted in residential zones, public zones or in Downtown Fullerton. The businesses will also not be permitted within a minimum of 600 feet from pre K-12 schools and daycare facilities.

The areas around Cal State Fullerton and Fullerton College will also not be available for retail licenses.

Roughly 33 commenters, from both within and outside of Fullerton, voiced their opinions on the item during public comment. One commenter said they were concerned about the implications these establishments could have on the youth.

“So, I ask you to please, for our youth and our children, don’t only look at the monetary consequences of this, but all the effects and consequences that our children may face because of this,” the speaker said. “I believe that, as a mother, we want the best for our children and I think that by opening these marijuana dispensaries, it’s not the solution.”

Another speaker detailed their journey with cannabis after being diagnosed with lymphoma, and said that it helped them get through chemotherapy.

“Cannabis and the industry as a whole has changed my life for the better, more than anything in my whole experience on this planet,” the commenter said. “Not only can cannabis benefit individuals themselves, but it is a great benefit for your city as well.”

City council member Jesus Silvia said that he was sympathetic with the parents who were concerned about the dispensaries, but also recognized that it could help the city’s economy. He added that regulating locally owned dispensaries will increase accountability and investments, as well as social equity in terms of where these shops are located.

“I do get the fear of the parents and the concerns but again those are coming from our experience and my experience with these illegal shops and I do think that if we go with legal shops some of those concerns will be eliminated,” Silvia said.

Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald agreed with the mothers who were present during the meeting, and said that the council should not move forward with an ordinance. She added that she wanted to ask Fullerton residents more specific questions about cannabis proximity and usage in a poll and recommended that the stores be 1000 feet away from prohibited areas, among other revisions.

“The people at the community meetings were by and large business interested in this issue, they were not the residents of Fullerton,” Fitzgerald said, referencing the outreach efforts.

A revised version of the ordinance will go to the planning commission to proceed, in addition to more community meetings and Spanish language outreach.

First posted on Daily Titan 


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