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Morro Bay looking to hold public workshop on how to regulate marijuana

Morro Bay’s City Council will be holding a public workshop to seek public opinion on the regulation of recreational marijuana in the wake of the passage of Proposition 64. In this Nov. 21, 2014, photo, a former U.S. Marine smokes medical marijuana in Belfast, Maine.
Morro Bay’s City Council will be holding a public workshop to seek public opinion on the regulation of recreational marijuana in the wake of the passage of Proposition 64. In this Nov. 21, 2014, photo, a former U.S. Marine smokes medical marijuana in Belfast, Maine. Associated Press file

Opting against sending out a citywide survey at a cost of about $6,400, the city of Morro Bay instead will ask the public in an upcoming workshop how they’d like to see marijuana regulated. The response will help the City Council craft a new ordinance by next year that could set regulations on taxation, cultivation, dispensaries and delivery services.

No date has been set yet for the City Council workshop, which will seek public response on several key questions, including: Should medical marijuana stores be allowed and, if so, in what zoning areas? Should medical or recreational marijuana delivery services be allowed? Should the city impose a tax on marijuana sales? Should the city regulate indoor or outdoor marijuana cultivation?

I think hearing from people face to face is the best way to gather public input. We plan to reach out to the public and get as much feedback as we can.

Robert “Red” Davis, Morro Bay city councilman

More than 60 percent of Morro Bay voters supported Proposition 64, legalizing the adult recreational use of marijuana, in the November election. Although the law legalizes adult personal use of marijuana and indoor cultivation of up to six plants for personal use, cities can “reasonably regulate” indoor cultivation, and can regulate or ban commercial or outdoor cultivation as well as mobile or storefront sales. The law also allows cities to levy taxes on marijuana sales.

“I think hearing from people face to face is the best way to gather public input,” said Councilman Robert “Red” Davis during Tuesday’s council meeting. “We plan to reach out to the public and get as much feedback as we can.”

Council members agreed that a public workshop will save the city the cost of sending out mailers to residents, saying it’s the most effective way to gather a public response to craft a new policy.

There’s no appetite for spending $6,400 on a direct survey.

John Headding, Morro Bay city councilman

“There’s no appetite for spending $6,400 on a direct survey,” Councilman John Headding said. “The voters have voted on this and sent a clear message. Let’s have a public workshop based on these questions and move forward with an ordinance.”

The council set a deadline to draft an ordinance by Aug. 31.

Morro Bay, like other local municipalities, is facing a deadline by the end of the year to pass a new city ordinance relating to marijuana or default to state regulations under the new law.

The state is in the process of setting up its licensing structure for both medical and recreational marijuana businesses, and it expects to issue its first licenses in early 2018.

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