Fullerton City Council voted 3-2 (Fitzgerald and Whitaker “no”) to pass a “resolution of intention” to consider options for allowing commercial cannabis businesses in the city at their October 15 meeting.
They also voted to contract with a consulting firm called Hdl to help study the issue and hold community meetings in order to get the public’s input over the next several months.
Mayor Silva said he brought the item forward because he wanted to have an open discussion to “see what’s out there, see if it will work, [and] gain some knowledge.”
Councilmember Ahmad Zahra, who supported the resolution, said “right now marijuana is being sold in our city, whether we like it or not” and that he favors adopting sound policy to protect residents.
Councilmember Flory, who also supported the resolution, said “I could argue this issue both ways.” She said she wants more information and public input, and would not be against putting it to a vote in 2020.
Mayor Protem Jennifer Fitzgerald, who opposed the resolution, said that she could not support “adding additional drug business to this city when we already have illegal activity that we need to shut down,” referring to the current problem of illegal dispensaries in Fullerton.
Councilmember Bruce Whitaker, who voted against the resolution, acknowledged that “the voters have spoken” but felt that council was acting too hastily.
In November, 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64 which allowed for the legal sale of recreational cannabis. Locally, Proposition 64 passed in Fullerton as well as at the County level, with 52 percent voting in favor, and 48 percent opposed. In 2017 City Council voted to prohibit all cannabis related uses and activities citywide.
At the council meeting, various members of the public also weighed in on the issue.
Nick Berardino, president of the Veterans Alliance of Orange County, spoke in favor of allowing dispensaries, as cannabis can be a of use to veterans suffering PTSD and other injuries, and the dispensaries can provide good local jobs.
Jeff LeTourneau, northern Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County, said “I’ve sat here listening to city departments say how broke they are, how underfunded they are, and you’re looking at an opportunity for millions of dollars for new tax revenue…So I think this concept is a win-win for everybody.”
Ilsa Miranda, who lived near an illegal dispensary on Euclid and Baker streets, said that allowing cannabis business may be good for the city financially, but will have a negative impact in the long run. Other folks from this area expressed fear that allowing dispensaries will negatively impact children.
“This will have absolute negative, horrid effects on children,” said Fullerton resident Conrad Dewitte.
Dan Perez, a retired LA police detective who owns a security guard company, said that cannabis dispensaries can provide good, local jobs.
“It hurts my heart every time I go to the city of Santa Ana to buy my CBD creams over there. I would always rather give my money here, to Fullerton,” said Fullerton resident Kitty Jaramillo. “It wouldn’t be such a boogeyman if people would go to a legal dispensary and see how they really are, see how they’re operated.”
Moving forward, the city of Fullerton, in conjunction with Hdl, will be hosting community meetings to gain more public input, and further study the issue.
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