By Benjie Cooper
YouTube: Lucid’s Vlog
For years, dispensaries have operated in the city of Vista under the ever-present reality that they could be the subject of a raid by law enforcement and shut down. But after Tuesday’s midterm elections, that reality has finally changed.
The road to the voting booth hasn’t been an easy one for Vistans for Safe Community Access (VSCA); a city clerk invalidated their first initiative in February of 2017 after noticing a titling discrepancy in the text.
“Measure Z was a long journey of ups and downs,” former VSCA member Gracie Morgan told Candid Chronicle. “We faced adversity around every corner, not only from the city council and the city attorney, but also from political professionals who were hired to assist in the project and provide guidance and took advantage of the fact that we were in the cannabis industry. Ultimately they caused us to have to gather signatures twice.”
VSCA began circulating a second petition and managed to gather enough signatures by September of 2017 to secure a spot on the Fall ballot in 2018 as Measure Z.
“Another factor that made Measure Z’s inception a big challenge is the fact that there was and is still a large misunderstanding by the public about the reality of ‘legal cannabis’ in California,” said Morgan. “Both times we started over with nothing but determination to bring justice for this plant medicine to the patients of North County San Diego.”
But even as the organizers behind the citizen’s initiative prepared for November 6, the Vista City Council was working on a medicinal cannabis measure of their own.
In May, 2017, the council commissioned a survey of Vista residents to get a better idea of how they felt about medicinal cannabis dispensaries and local access. When the results showed that the majority of locals approved of allowing medical marijuana businesses to operate legally in the city, city staff drafted a proposal for the council’s consideration.
After the council debated the proposal at a meeting in February, they decided to maintain the status quo and put the matter before voters in the 2018 midterm elections as Measure BB.
When Vista voters arrived at their polling locations on Tuesday, Measure Z, Measure BB, and Measure AA awaited their approval or denial. Measure AA was also proposed by the council and contains guidelines for taxing cultivation and sales.
After the last precincts had reported in with their tallies, Measure Z ended up being the winning initiative with a final 51.32% yes to 48.68% no vote. The council’s Measure BB failed to gain voter approval with a 55.22% no to 44.78% yes vote while Measure AA passed 51.53% to 48.48%.
Measure Z is set to go into effect ten days after the City Council certifies the election results.