Thursday, April 12, 2018

By Chris Frost

Special to the Tri County Sentry


On first reading, The Oxnard City Council approved the delivery of medical cannabis within the city limits.

Assistant City Attorney Ken Rozell spoke on behalf of the ordinance and said in 1996, California voters approved medical marijuana and also approved non-medical use by people ages 25 and older a few months ago.

“The one good thing about the new regulation is that cities and counties still retain the right to determine whether or not they want to allow commercial cannabis uses within their jurisdiction,” he said.

The Oxnard City Council held several study sessions about cannabis in 2017, he said, and after receiving input the council directed to enact a zone text amendment banning commercial cannabis activities and incorporate existing cannabis activities in the existing zoning code.

“The ordinance before you tonight allow delivery of medical cannabis in the city,” he said.

The ordinance has three conditions, he said, which includes the medical cannabis being delivered by a licensed medical cannabis with a delivery permit, the delivery driver must be issued a permit from the city and the cannabis must be delivered to a qualified caregiver or a patient.

The delivery driver must pass a background check, he said, and must be safe drivers with no convicted felonies or convictions related to illegal controlled substances.

“They’re not registered sex offenders and not convicted of elder abuse,” Rozell said.

Cannabis drivers must be 21 years old, he said, and the distributions occur between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. in a locked container.

"It must directly go to the residence of the qualified caregiver or patient," he said. "The delivery person can't have more than $2,500 on their person or in the delivery vehicle."

Rozell said the driver may only have 8 ounces of cannabis in their vehicle.

He said the city has reached out to dispensaries interested in delivery, including Skunkmasters in Port Hueneme, Sespe Creek Collective and Shangri-La Care in Ojai.

"We anticipate that representatives from one or more of these dispensaries might be here tonight," he said.

Daniel Chavez Jr. asked for the dispensary issue to be clarified.

"The dispensary has to be located in the City of Oxnard," he said.

Chavez said the city needs to step up.

"The residents of Oxnard want this to happen," he said. "I feel the council is allowing their judgment to cloud this."

Steve Nash told the council that the irony is not lost on him that the city is placing more restrictions on someone delivering the product than gun owners.

"It's ridiculous," he said.

Police Chief Whitney said Rozell did a great job on the ordinance.

"We had a lot of ideas on how we were going to regulate this," Whitney said.

He said the dispensaries provided a lot of input and the city made edits based on the feedback.

Whitney added that going slow and allowing medicinal marijuana deliveries first is the way to go, rather than rushing in and making mistakes.

"The second mouse is the one who gets the cheese," he said.

Rozell said no dispensaries would be allowed in Oxnard.

Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez said she supports it.

"It is a business," she said. "Oxnard needs to get modern, and this is the first step."

Councilman Bryan MacDonald said he is amazed by the number of people who approach him and say he hates marijuana because he was a cop for 30 years.

"I don't hate it," he said. "I tried it once in high school, and it didn't do anything for me," he said. "I don't have a problem with the medical aspect."

Councilman Bert Perello said he supports the ordinance.

"I'm glad it's here," he said.

Mayor Tim Flynn said he was influenced by a man in a wheelchair who approached the dais and showed the council a bag of medications he was taking for pain.

"At the time, he was pleading for the city to open up a dispensary," he said. "I support the go-slow approach and agree with Chief Whitney."