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Letter: City is taking the right steps to license cannabis operations 

letter to the editor

To the editor,

A fallacious fairy tale

– I am disappointed that the Paso Robles Daily News has given an ill-advised and poorly timed political soapbox to a man telling a one-sided, misleading tale just a few days prior to a critical election.

Ron Cuff’s opinion about the city turning downtown Paso Robles into an “intoxication destination” is misleading and factually inaccurate. It’s written in a way to alarm and mislead voters so that he can garner support for the candidate he is financially backing.

My concern is how his account twisted the recent actions of the city council. The City of Paso Robles is not “pursuing an ill-advised plan to permit” retail cannabis stores in our “once charming small town.” What they are doing is undertaking a methodical, moderate approach to dealing with an issue that the city is facing – which is how to address the needs of its constituents who are both for and against the sale of cannabis and how to develop regulations to fairly address their concerns so that they may properly govern the city.

The voters of the state of California have repeatedly and resoundingly approved the legalization of cannabis.

First for medical use and then for recreational use. The state gave permission to jurisdictions to apply for the authority on how to regulate its production, use and sale within their own jurisdictions. The City of Paso Robles did this so that they could oversee what happened within its boundaries.

In November 2016, the city council adopted an ordinance to regulate personal, medical, and commercial cannabis uses. The only commercial activity authorized was for medical cannabis delivery businesses and only in the Riverside Corridor (RSC – along portions of Riverside Drive) and the commercial/light industry (C-3) zones which are located around Highway 46 and Union Road. All other cannabis businesses were prohibited within the city limits and they still are.

In 2018, Paso Robles voters approved Measure I-18 which enacted an ordinance to establish a tax on all cannabis-related activities. In October 2020, the city council directed staff to facilitate public input on the matter and develop a recommendation but due to Covid and leadership changes, this didn’t materialize so the city council took it back up in 2022. They’ve been working on it all year, which makes Cuff’s recent opinion even more suspect.

The recent actions – taken by the city council (not just the mayor whom Cuff is opposing) – were unanimously approved and have only two elements:

1) Continue to review and advance the development of a cannabis governance framework. What this means is that the city is trying to figure out how to deal with all cannabis issues; and
2) Allow the “two” existing commercial cannabis delivery services to “temporarily” continue to lawfully operate while the city further examines this issue.

These two businesses are located in the approved zones and their facilities are the offices they use to administer their business. The action also includes the consideration of the application of a third cannabis delivery business.

That’s it! They didn’t consider allowing “storefront” cannabis stores with candy-like displays in downtown picture windows to lure unsuspecting teens into them to open. Besides, you have to be 21 and show proof of age to purchase cannabis from legally authorized regulated dispensaries, but not street drug dealers. They haven’t even approved the existence of one recreational cannabis business within the city limits.

But this is the fallacious, dark fairy tale that Ron Cuff was trying to conjure in your minds. The city council and the mayor did their jobs. This is how governing works. In these contentious times, what we need from our governing leaders is moderation, deliberation, and decisions that work for all of us, not extremist alarmism, and not on just this issue but all issues.

But don’t believe me – and certainly don’t believe Ron Cuff. Whether you’re for or against the use, production, or sale of cannabis, do your homework. Read the minutes and the ordinances and make up your own minds because that’s how democracy works.

Becky Zelinski
Paso Robles


Editor’s note: Opinion pieces and letters to the editor are the personal opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Paso Robles Daily News or its staff. We welcome letters from local residents regarding relevant local topics. To submit one, click here.

 

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