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Encinitas authorizes marijuana deliveries in compliance with state law

ENCINITAS — In order to demonstrate consistency with state law, the Encinitas City Council voted unanimously on Feb. 20 to amend the municipal code to allow cannabis deliveries to the city.

According to regulations recently put forward by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and approved by the California Office of Administrative Law, cities can no longer ban the delivery of recreational marijuana products to their residents — as long as those deliveries are made by licensed operators.

While the statewide-delivery law has generated resistance and threats of litigation, the law will stand unless overturned by a court or rescinded by the state.

City Attorney Glenn Sabine recommended that Encinitas amend Chapter 9.21 of its municipal code because, as he stated, “The city has no discretion anymore to prohibit deliveries within its boundaries.”

Certain members of the public, particularly ones involved with youth anti-drug campaigns and education programs, spoke at the Feb. 20 meeting to express their opinion that the city should wait to see what happens with potential lawsuits before changing the municipal code.

City Councilman Tony Kranz said that although he admired and appreciated the efforts of the public speakers who advocated for drug-free lifestyles for youth and adults, “In the case of delivery, I think it’s appropriate that the adults who want to consume these products in Encinitas should be able to get them legally and through the very official and monitored system that these stores have.”

Councilman Joe Mosca acknowledged what he called “strong feelings on both sides” from the legalization of recreational marijuana in California via Proposition 64 and the regulations that followed in its aftermath, but he saw the decision before the council as simple and straightforward.

“State law has changed,” Mosca said. “We are not taking any further action other than making sure our code is consistent with state law.”

According to reporting by the Sacramento Bee, various city delivery bans were creating what the publication called “pot deserts,” or places where no cannabis could be legally accessed.

In fact, three months after Proposition 64 was implemented, 38 percent of state residents would have needed to drive between 60 and 120 miles to get to a licensed dispensary to purchase marijuana.

Lack of access, it has been argued, keeps the black market thriving. While Proposition 64 gave local governments some authority to regulate commercial cannabis activity, the extent of that authority has been debated.

The League of California Cities, for example, sees the new statewide-delivery law as an affront to local control.

In Encinitas, the retail sale and commercial cultivation of recreational marijuana remain illegal. A ballot measure slated for 2020 will let Encinitas voters decide whether those prohibitions should stay in place or be overturned.

Prior to the Feb. 20 meeting, the City Council was waiting to see how the state would rule on delivery before making any decisions on the matter.