The Hollister City Council has scheduled Sept. 19 for a decision on Hollister’s medical marijuana ordinance, but acting before the upcoming election results doesn’t make sense. The primary reason for waiting is to get the Nov. 8 local vote view on Proposition 64, the closely related proposal for recreational marijuana.
Those promoting both medical and recreational marijuana will argue that these are two separate issues, but in fact the proposition will change the ordinance’s impact. If Prop. 64 passes, it eliminates the use tax on medical marijuana. This was money the city planned to use to fund administrative control and code enforcement for those operations; we would then be forced to approve recreational marijuana sale locations to receive the promised, added taxes or find other ways to generate the revenue.
The proposed medical marijuana ordinance also states clearly that it provides the framework for medical marijuana operators to transition some, or all, of their medical operations to recreational marijuana use, which would significantly change the character of those operations. We should know the likelihood of that transition in the city before we consider critical zoning issues.
The official canvass of the vote will be certified no later than Dec. 8 and our elected leaders and the public will be able to see, exactly, the city voters’ opinions on these issues at that time or sooner.
Since the implementing regulations are not in place and won’t be for months, waiting the short time to get the local vote on these highly controversial issues makes perfect sense. There is no good reason to plow into the unknown prior to the local vote count.
The election will also select a mayor and one new council member who will have to live with the ordinance for years to come; they deserve to have that information. This ordinance can wait until the vote canvass is in, those results will have an important impact on the funding and revenue equations as well as the character of the city.
Marty Richman is from Hollister.