Split vote creates draft for possible cannabis ordinance

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

In a split decision Monday night, the La Habra City Council directed city staff to draft a new ordinance that would allow for the development of distribution centers for cannabis.

The draft proposal would allow for two permits for distribution businesses that would distribute cannabis products to dispensaries in other cities.

“We are entering a phase in the state od California where this is a legal activity,” Mayor Pro Tem Michael Blazey Explained. “The state is taking a measures approach, and we are taking a measured approach. “

City personnel and La Habra Police Department officials toured an operational cannabis distribution facility in West Sacramento.

Members expressed that they were surprised with the facility. La Habra Police Lieutenant Dan Henderson described it as being a nondescript building in an industrial area. HE explained that it was a high-security area with multiple checks, similar to a courthouse.

Henderson added that the business was “like you would see as a Amazon distribution center.”

The delivery vehicles were fortified and driven by background-checked and drug-tested Teamsters. The vehicles had GPS tracking and stop activity, which allows them to be stopped remotely if needed.

Based on this observation, many viewed that it might be possible to allow a limited number of the facilities in the city. The city officials will be touring a facility in Costa Mesa, which is about to go online, and a facility in Adelanto in January.

Distribution is just one of six types of licenses areas that the state is working with cities to authorize as cannabis becomes legal next year. The other areas include: cultivation, manufacturing, testing, distribution/dispensaries and microbusiness.

This ordinance was just to focus on drafting an ordinance regarding distribution. Testing would be researched next starting in February with delivery and dispensaries to be researched later in 2018.

All proposals will need to go through the draft process and then be submitted to the Planning Commission for recommendations and then on to the City Council again for formal approval.

Not all council members were in support of the draft proposal. Councilman Jim Gomez voted against the drat and said he feared what could happen if any type of cannabis business were allowed in the city. He said that he didn’t want La Habra to be known as the “cannabis city.”

Councilwoman Rose Espinoza echoed Gomez’ comments and added her concern for second-hand smoke and the children in the community.

The Santa Ana City Council recently approved multiple licenses for all areas of the cannabis business within the city. This will allow the city to tap into larger state tax revenue, since they are allowing all area.

Not being swayed by the potential increase in revenue from the state, the La Habra Council’s approach is much more limited and slower.

“Our take is a measured approach in an effort to come up with strategies that comply with state laws, but at our and own pace,” Blazey said. “What I love about La Habra is we think things through and make things work.”

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.