An ordinance regulating commercial cannabis businesses adopted by San Bernardino city leaders earlier this year could appear on the November ballot.
The City Council on Wednesday, Aug. 1, is to decide whether to give voters a say on its regulatory framework, a move intended to address the fallout of a similar debate in 2016, when voters had three initiatives from which to choose.
Voters that year approved two citizen-backed measures: O, with 55 percent of the vote, and N, with 51 percent. A measure backed by the city, P, failed to win a majority.
In March, city leaders approved regulations for commercial cannabis businesses in the event Measure O was ultimately deemed invalid. The state’s Fourth District Court of Appeal has yet to rule on the measure’s recent invalidation by a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge.
Wednesday, the city could take the first step in clearing up the muck surrounding the issue.
Should voters approve the city’s regulations in November, lawsuits regarding measures O and N would likely be rendered moot, city staffers say.
San Bernardino could realize significant litigation cost savings as a result.
In June, the city received about 30 commercial cannabis applications. Those business owners would have more certainty over the local regulatory environment should a majority of voters approve the city’s measure in November, a staff report says.
A citizen-backed initiative already has qualified for the 2018 ballot; a second, proposed by cannabis activist and real estate developer Stephanie Smith, did not have enough valid signatures to qualify for inclusion.
Under the city’s ordinance, which Smith is challenging in court, San Bernardino can award up to 17 commercial cannabis licenses between six business types: cultivation, microbusiness, manufacturing, retail, distribution and testing.
City leaders on Wednesday also could place on the ballot a measure establishing a cannabis tax projected to generate between $810,000 and $2.4 million annually, according to HdL Companies, the city’s cannabis consultant. That revenue would be available to fund various city expenses, including police services.
The City Council meets at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1, at the Council Chambers, 201 N. E St. San Bernardino.
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