Exeter City Council votes to ban all commercial marijuana within city limits with new ordinance
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
EXETER – Marijuana in Exeter is a far from smoky topic. Residents have made it known that they just don’t want it, and apparently the City Council agrees for now.
At last week’s City Council meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 10, the Council opened up for public comment before voting to move forward on Ordinance 683 prohibiting all commercial cannabis activities. They are not the only city to make this move, Visalia voted to ban commercial cannabis two weeks ago and according to Exeter city attorney Julia Lew the City of San Francisco has chosen to ban it until they can formulate more concrete regulations. But the most important reason cities are banning commercial cannabis is to maintain local control before State law takes over in 2018.
“Rather than debate these things now and miss the deadline to put in an ordinance, we are putting our stake in the ground and maintaining local control instead of losing the opportunity,” said Exeter city manager Randy Groom.
The Council will hold one more public hearing on the matter at the Oct. 24 meeting before voting to pass it or possibly make changes, albeit changes are unlikely. Ordinance 683 will take effect 30 days after passage.
Ordinance 683 explicitly states that all commercial cannabis activities, permitting only indoor personal cannabis cultivation as prescribed by state law, prohibiting the smoking or use of cannabis in a public place, on private business properties or within public or business facilities unless specifically authorized by local regulation or required by state law. Ordinance 683 also repeals several sections of the municipal code and replaces it with language that reflects updated state law on cannabis. In particular the changes to the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, imposed by Senate Bill 94.
Lew also said that the Council can go back and change the ordinance in any way that they want. If a new council wants to introduce some concessions to allow for commercial marijuana in the city limits, they can reopen the ordinance to make that change. But as of now the Council is not leaning toward that direction. Although, current councilmember Gordon Gerdes has mentioned the potential revenue cities stand to gain from commercial marijuana in the past.
“I’m not for it. I’m totally against it, but if you’re a city and you need revenue then that’s where it’s going to be in the future,” Gerdes said at the Sept. 12 council meeting.
Cities nearby are taking a different approach to commercial marijuana. The City of Woodlake has placed a tax on cannabis businesses on the upcoming Nov. 7 ballot along with a 1% sales tax increase. Farmersville is asking their voters to decide whether to tax whole sale marijuana cultivation companies who could potentially locate to the city in the future.
But the potential revenue stream from cannabis is still unclear. Jason Water, community development director for Woodlake said that they are unsure how much money will come from having them in town. The reason being is that they haven’t had marijuana business in town before so there is little data for them to base it on.
At previous Exeter council meetings Gerdes has said that if they were going to allow for commercial marijuana, it would be somewhere out of the way of residences, and probably near industrial park.