During last Tuesday night’s hearing concerning the cannabis use ordinance many people appeared who were concerned about the proximity of commercial sales points to churches. Council member Jenelle Osborne rejected their appeal out of hand saying, “where were you when this policy was in development?”

From the outset of these hearings nearly a year ago one thing has been made perfectly clear by council members Jim Mosby, Jenelle Osborne, Dirk Starbuck and Victor Vega — we are going to allow commercial cannabis operations of all types in city limits and there will be no restrictions. With a laser-like focus, that’s exactly what they did as they ignored policy questions raised by constituents.

Questions the council majority refused to discuss included prohibiting visible outdoor cultivation of cannabis in yards of private residences as required by state law; including houses of worship, public or private facilities used for recreational or social activities for minors or court-directed drug/alcohol treatment programs and/or medical rehabilitation facilities in exclusion zones; and requiring smoking and production odors to be controlled.

None of these issues were important to the four clearly-biased and tone-deaf council members. Council member Jim Mosby called the ordinance an experiment.

So why should people who speak now and in months to come on the cannabis ordinance be discouraged from coming forward due to timing?

One speaker, who supports unrestricted cannabis operations, banged the podium telling church members, “if you come late, you get what you get.”

The Lompoc Record reported that “Councilwoman Jenelle Osborne, who first advocated for bringing the cannabis industry into Lompoc during her 2016 campaign, made the motion to move forward and adopt the ordinance.” No wonder she rejected all the legitimate concerns of the people who will be impacted by this policy. She was delivering on her commitment to the cannabis industry.

“I’ve had a phone call,” she added. “I’ve had an email. That’s not participating. Tonight has been the first participation and it wasn’t strong enough to change, because it didn’t have any legal boundaries I could respect.”

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It seems Osborne’s ego would not allow deviation from the path she and her fellow council members had chosen. In the era of electronic communication, both email and phone conversations are a legitimate way to communicate with elected officials. Agendas posted on the city website include emails and letters as public comment and are a part of the public record of hearings.

To paraphrase Mayor Bob Lingl, 57 percent voted for Proposition 64 to allow personal and so-called medical cannabis users to grow up to six plants without fear of prosecution. But, those folks may not have wanted commercial operations in the city.

Other communities all over the state had similar voter margins supporting cannabis, however, those communities either rejected the idea of commercial operations or created clearly-worded ordinances that were designed to protect their communities.

Mayor Lingl announced that an effort would be made to initiate a referendum to allow voters to express their opinion about this ordinance. Since the concerns of citizens, medical and public safety professionals were ignored during the development process, this seems to be an appropriate way to assure the public is included in this process.

A referendum would not have any effect on personal use or growth of six plants. But it could result in a more clearly-worded policy at a future date, which is the best concerned citizens could hope for.

Ron Fink is a local activist and can be reached at: rfink@impulse.net.

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