In an attempt to help shape future regulations, several Lompoc residents shared their views Thursday on the ways Lompoc could benefit from allowing marijuana use and commercial sales within the city’s borders.
About 15 community members gathered at City Hall on Thursday evening for the fourth and final meeting of an ad hoc committee that was created late last year to explore marijuana-related issues. The committee, which consisted of City Council members Jenelle Osborne and Victor Vega, was formed as part of a City Council motion to shoot down a proposed ordinance on Dec. 20, 2016, that many members of the public, and even members of the council, said was too restrictive and overreaching.
Now that the meetings are complete, Osborne said Thursday that the committee will work with the rest of the City Council and city staff to bring forward another ordinance proposal, likely at a council meeting in late June.
Only six of the attendees spoke at Thursday’s meeting, but all of them were in favor of pro-marijuana legislation, such as laxer regulations regarding personal use, a business-friendly environment for marijuana cultivators and distributors, and lenient laws regarding personal grows.
“The voters of California and, overwhelmingly, the voters of Lompoc have voted to legalize recreational access, including personal use,” Lompoc resident Tyann Campfield said, referring to the passage of Proposition 64 on the 2016 ballot. “Ultimately, the voters want safe, legal access (and) they want to be able to grow indoors or outdoors on their own property without too much government oversight. I believe in taxation and I also believe in regulation, but I don’t want to see it regulated to death.”
Many people, including seemingly everyone in attendance Thursday, believed that the city was in fact going against the will of the voters with last year’s failed ordinance, which banned all outdoor grows and required city permits in order to grow indoors, among other regulations.
Osborne acknowledged Thursday that she was “disappointed” by the lack of attendance at the ad hoc meetings by those in the community with opposing, or anti-marijuana, views. The only opposition offered Thursday came from a letter that Osborne read from Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh, who was not in attendance but was among the supporters of the December proposal.
“By allowing individuals to buy and consume marijuana in a business, you put all Lompoc residents in danger,” Walsh wrote, as read by Osborne. “I have heard marijuana proponents state that smoking marijuana in this fashion is much akin to wine tasting. This could not be further from the truth.”
The letter went on to note that people can consume alcohol up to a legal limit and still drive or perform other functions but suggested that someone who ingests marijuana would become impaired right away.
Some members of the audience loudly scoffed at Walsh’s assertions, which prompted Osborne to stop reading and ask that people be respectful.
Among the points brought up by the speakers at the meeting were that Lompoc could increase its revenue by allowing marijuana businesses, both recreational and medicinal, and that placing heavy, and in some cases expensive, restrictions on personal use and growth could effectively ban a legal substance among the portion of the population that can’t afford to grow indoors or pay for permits.
Some speakers also expressed a desire to see the city allow marijuana clubs or bars, which are businesses where people could go to relax and smoke much like bars that serve alcohol.
Despite the near-universal favorable opinions expressed Thursday, not everyone was happy with the ad hoc committee’s progress.
Lompoc resident Joe Garcia, who has attended all four meetings and founded the “Lompoc Valley Cannabis Coalition for Safe Access” group in early January, said afterward that he felt a lot of issues weren’t discussed.
He said one of the stated goals of the committee was to discuss Lompoc’s 2015 ban on medical marijuana operations, but that specific ordinance was not explored. He also said the discussions did not go into as much depth as he would have liked.
“I’m sure they’re taking some of our comments and know what we want,” Garcia said, “but, for example, they haven’t addressed zoning. Where these businesses are going to go was never addressed by this ad hoc. It was never addressed about how many types of businesses are going to be allowed. There was never talk about are we going to have a free market or are we gonna have a lottery system.”
“I just would hate for them to OK one thing and then sweep everything else under the rug,” he later added.