Stoners Taking The Initiative

By Kathleen McLean

Currently throughout California groups are putting together initiatives to create change for the cannabis community. An initiative, by definition, is a procedure by which a specified number of voters may propose a statute, constitutional amendment, or ordinance, and compel a popular vote on its adoption.

Each city has a group, whether it is backed by politicians and/or investors, that are and have put together initiatives to force city council members to listen to voters. Unfortunately what city councils want seems far off from what the people’s initiatives are. For example, the Vista City Council, with the help of councilman Joe Green, is proposing to allow two dispensaries within the city limits, for a city of 100,000, some believe that may be lacking. Each dispensary would have to be a minimum 1,000 feet from schools, parks or other “sensitive” uses such as homeless shelters and substance abuse treatment centers. On the other hand, groups such as Vistans for Safe Access turned in their initiative suggesting a minimum of 10 dispensaries be opened up, basically setting up one dispensary per every ten thousand people. Each dispensary would have to be 250 feet away from schools, parks, and other sensitive uses, which is a far cry from the 1,000 feet the city is proposing. The Association of Cannabis Professionals has also submitted an initiative. According to Dallin Young, the executive director of the Association of Cannabis Professionals, “the sensitive uses will be schools, parks, and daycares. The proposed dispensary will need to be 1000 feet, by the path of travel, away from those sensitive uses.”

One glaring question to most of the community will be how and when will people know which initiative to vote on and when will they be passed. Mr. Young explained, “signatures do need to be collected. If we get 15% of all registered voters to sign for the initiative, then it goes to a special election. If it’s 10%, then it will go to the November of next year election. If we do get our 15% of signatures submitted, the city council does have the option to sign off on our initiative right then and make it law versus having to vote on it.”

The Association of Cannabis Professionals and Vistans for Safer Access are submitting initiatives simply because Vista’s City Council hasn’t. Their initiatives are forcing the city to be more progressive with allowing dispensaries within the city. The people of Vista will want to pay attention to their City Council meetings.