A proposed Santa Ana City Council sponsored ballot initiative to tax and regulate medical marijuana collectives could soon create a situation where, of some 150 shops city officials estimate are selling the drug, only 12 would likely be allowed to continue operating, according to the Voice of OC.
The city’s proposal would restrict the shops to industrial zones and would also be banned from opening within 1,000 ft. of schools, parks and residential areas. Only a fraction of land isolated to the city’s southern corners meet the requirements, meaning 18 to 24 shops could open, officials estimate, according to another Voice of OC article.
The Medical Cannabis Restriction and Limitation Initiative would set up a process for dispensaries to register with the city and in return pay a 2 percent tax, according to the OC Register. Under the advocates’ proposal, the shops would be prohibited from residential zones and within 600 ft. of schools. There is also a tax of $20 per $1,000 in gross sales, and requirements for security like lights and alarm systems, according to a ballot summary, according to the Voice of OC.
State Senator Lou Correa has also proposed a bill, which has moved ahead to the Assembly, that would set up a system for regulating how medical cannabis is sold in the state. It would require medical marijuana dispensaries to get a state license and approval from local officials to see patients, according to the OC Register.
No matter which ballot measure prevails in November the reality is that out of some 150 marijuana dispensaries currently in business in Santa Ana only 8 to 12 of them will end up being declared legal. Ethics experts say the strict limit – along with another November ballot measure council members are considering that would relax campaign finance restrictions – could result in a windfall of campaign contributions from pot shops and an environment ripe for undue influence, according to the Voice of OC.
According to a city insider, two of our Santa Ana Council Members have already accepted campaign contributions from marijuana dealers. The Council Members who are currently up for re-election include David Benavides, Michele Martinez and Mayor Pro Tem Sal Tinajero, as well as Mayor Miguel Pulido. Additionally Councilman Roman Reyna is running against Pulido, for the Mayor’s office.
It is entirely possible that the local marijuana dealers will be able to control our City Council by funding their chosen candidates. To make matters worse, the City Council has proposed a a city charter amendment eliminating a campaign finance rule that restricts council members from participating in decisions regarding people who have contributed at least $250 to their campaigns in the preceding 12 months, according to the Voice of OC.
California’s voters approved the use and sale of medical marijuana years ago but the reality is that most folks can easily get a medical marijuana card for the sketchiest of reasons including being unable to sleep at night. While some people do need marijuana for real medical reasons most pot smokers, with our without a medical marijuana card, use the drug because they like it. That said, waging an unending war against drugs has proven to be a failure in this country. It has only turned marijuana dealers into millionaires. Now a handful of them might be in position to become Santa Ana’s new political power players.