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Encinitas ballot measure allowing sale of cannabis too close to call

ENCINITAS — Despite a difference of 820 votes in favor of approving a measure authorizing cannabis sales and cultivation in the city of Encinitas, the outcome still remains too close to call nearly 10 days after the Nov. 3 election.

According to the San Diego Registrar of Voters, as of Thursday, Nov. 12, 38,688 Encinitas residents voted on the measure; 51.06%, or 19,754, voters in favor of cannabis production and sale and 48.94%, or 18,934, opposed.

In the week following Election Day, Measure H’s margin of victory has fluctuated between hundreds and thousands of votes in favor of the measure.

As of 9 a.m. on Nov. 12, 24,000 ballots remain uncounted by the Registrar of Voters, though it is unknown how many of the remaining votes pertain to Encinitas and could specifically sway Measure H’s results.

If passed, Measure H would amend current zoning regulations allowing cannabis cultivation, product manufacturing, distribution and retail sales in specified zones, subject to restrictions and regulations for each activity as well as the issuance of a business license by the city manager.

Measure H would also permit 100 square feet of personal and personal medical cultivation indoors for qualified patients and primary caregivers.

As detailed by the Registrar, only four licenses shall be granted to Encinitas retailers, subject to increase by the Encinitas City Council, and all locations must be at minimum 1,000 feet from daycare centers, playgrounds, schools or other retailers with a 24-hour security guard presence.

Currently, the city’s code prohibits sales, cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, storage and testing within city limits.

A “no” vote on Measure H would maintain current code restrictions.

If Measure H passes, it may only be overturned by a separate future vote of the people.

On August 15, 2018, the Encinitas City Council voted unanimously to allow Measure H on the ballot.

Since then, Encinitas residents have regularly commented on the impending measure in Council meetings, expressing both passionate opposition and support.

According to the Registrar’s voting guide,  groups in favor of the measure argue the code will support the city’s economy by opening additional businesses generating sales taxes and offering participating local farmers another potential source of revenue.

In 2016, 65% of Encinitas voters approved state Proposition 64, legalizing adult-use cannabis across California. Supporters of the current measure believe it will provide the public with “safe and legal” access with local regulation.

However, according to the Registrar, those in opposition disagree, stating “only the marijuana industry wants this.”

Those opposed to Measure H fear an increased financial burden on the city, pungent odors in surrounding residential neighborhoods, a loss of local control over land-use decisions and a “diminished environment and community charm.”

For now, Encinitas residents will wait to learn the fate of Measure H as it is currently too close to call.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters will continue to periodically release the results of the outstanding 33,000 ballots online at 5 pm nightly.