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Vista to move forward with medicinal marijuana deliveries

VISTA — Marijuana was a big topic during the City Council’s most recent meeting.

First, the council approved its Measure Z medicinal marijuana tax implementation, then had a long and spirited discussion regarding its cannabis-related use moratorium.

Currently, the moratorium does not allow for deliveries, manufacturing, cultivation, distribution or testing facilities in the city. However, the council directed staff to bring back an ordinance allowing for medicinal marijuana deliveries, along with information on light manufacturing, distribution and testing facilities, according to Andrea McCullough, the city’s communications officer.

No other action, minus the delivery ordinance request, was taken on the moratorium.

“The goal last week was to update the council on what’s out there because the state had a new law on delivery,” she explained. “It was broken down into do you want manufacturing, cultivation and testing, those sort of things. It was just direction for staff to come back before the end of the year.”

As for deliveries, a new state law enacted in January allows for deliveries in any city. Vista’s moratorium, which was approved in Dec. 12, 2018, and banned deliveries, will now remove the delivery restriction within city limits. The moratorium was specific to all non-Measure Z uses for 12 months so staff could review and report their findings back to council this year, McCullough said.

However, a medicinal facility in Vista must have business and state licenses to be legally allowed to deliver to customers. But, the council opted to craft the ordinance to allow deliveries to individuals 21 years or older.

In the report, city staff recommended against cultivation, although was open to the possibilities of manufacturing, testing and distribution. McCullough said one reason more information is being requested is due to the potential tax collection.

Measure Z delivery, meanwhile, was not part of the citizen initiative passed in November, so the council discussed how to collect taxes from marijuana businesses outside Vista.

McCullough said the medicinal business in the city would be at a disadvantage because a customer or patient could place order from another business and not have to worry about going into a store front.

“We’d be working with those jurisdictions … that allow permitted delivery and working with them to identify those systems to track and trace the seed to sale,” said Vista Assistant City Manager Aly Zimmerman. “And work with them to collect on those deliveries into Vista.”

As for testing, during a January council meeting Joseph Evans, an analytical chemist and chief technical officer of Trufoila (formerly Solana Lab Solutions), spoke in support of the facilities.

He said Orange County has become a hub, noting the state is drastically short on testing labs. Carlsbad, Escondido and San Marcos do not allow marijuana testing labs, while Oceanside does, but has not received any applications, according to its website.

“We are testing a sample, not pounds of marijuana,” Evans said in a previous interview. “Every batch of oil you have to test. There are two categories: potency … and safety, which people recognize as pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents. These are things that have to be tested in every batch as well.”