Signatures for marijuana legalization submitted in San Bernardino

2016-06-10 | San Bernardino County Sun

June 10--SAN BERNARDINO -- The proponent of a proposed ballot measure that would allow as many as five marijuana dispensaries in the city has submitted about 6,000 signatures seeking to put the measure on the ballot.

City Clerk Gigi Hanna informed the City Council Thursday that her office is now working with the county Registrar of Voters to confirm that the collection contains the required number of valid signatures from registered voters in the city: 3,674.

That number is based on the city charter, which says that an initiative will be put on the ballot -- in a special election or, in this case, alongside the regularly scheduled election Nov. 8 -- if the city receives signatures from a number of voters equal to 30 percent of the vote cast for all candidates for mayor in the previous election.

The proponent is Vincent Guzman, of San Bernardino, but he asked that all correspondence be done through Craig Beresh, an Upland resident and leader of Upland-based California Cannabis Coalition.

Beresh and the California Cannabis Coalition did not return phone calls or emails this week, but paperwork they submitted to the city contends that the measure would bring more than 800 living wage jobs and $15 million to $21 million to the city's general fund.

"Bringing marijuana into a regulated and legitimate market will create a transparent and accountable system," the proposed text of the San Bernardino Regulate Marijuana Act of 2016. "City revenues from a legal and regulated market can cover not only the cost of administering the new law, but can also be used to invest in many programs, including but not limited to public health programs, that educate youth to prevent and treat serious substance abuse; train local law enforcement to enforce the new law; invest in the community to reduce the illicit market and create job opportunities."

The source of the figures for jobs and revenue expected from allowing marijuana dispensaries are not spelled out in the 14-page proposed act.

Operating a dispensary would require a business license, which would cost $250 to apply for. Additional fees would be allowed based on the marijuana license type and total square footage, according to the ballot summary prepared by the city attorney's office.

The act would regulate lighting, signs, security, operating hours, location and odor, among other things.

Previous attempts to replace the ban on dispensaries that San Bernardino has had since 2011 have been opposed by some city officials, including Mayor Carey Davis.

But the city's legislative review committee is also working on a possible regulatory framework, with some indications the City Council could support replacing the ban.

Even some passionate supporters of that legalization are skeptical of the California Cannabis Coalition's efforts, including William Cioci, who has tried unsuccessfully to put another regulation plan on the ballot.

"I'm not necessarily saying I would rather have the ban, but I really think the people of the city deserve a say," Cioci said Monday. "This was put together without hearing from the people of the city."

Upland has spent more than $45,000 in a year of court battles fighting the California Cannabis Coalition's attempt to hold a special election on a ballot measure that aimed to overturn Upland's ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

California voters allowed the possession and cultivation of marijuana for medical uses in 1996, although it remains illegal under federal law. An initiative to legalize marijuana for other purposes statewide is likely to appear on the November ballot.