At the August 4 Monterey City Council (7 p.m. session), the Monterey City Council will consider my request to agendize a discussion about legalizing commercial cannabis business in the city.
In November 2016, California voters approved the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64) to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, with 69.5% of Monterey residents voting in favor. Upon implementation growers and suppliers of medical cannabis were required to register, comply with regulations, and apply for permits. At that time the City of Monterey chose to update its ordinance banning the sale of cannabis and taking a wait and see approach.
Starting off this year at a time when the City was already in a fiscal crisis, we are now impacted by significant loss in revenues from the hospitality industry due to COVID-19. By permitting commercial cannabis activities, the City will be tapping into a source of revenue that supports our economic recovery and future investments into community services.
Acknowledging community concerns regarding the character of our town, for legal operators a reduction in illegal activity is essential for the industry’s success. Also, last summer Gallup did a poll identifying that 86% of supporters cite the drug’s benefits to those who use it medicinally as a ‘very important’ reason they favor legalization. And according to a 2017 study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine there is evidence that cannabis and/or cannabinoids can help with conditions like pain, multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms and chemotherapy-related nausea.
Additionally, at a time of great social unrest and dialogue surrounding police activities, we can create less government control and increased safety for users and nonusers alike. We must think creatively, act strategically, and support a budget that aligns with city services most desired by our residents. I recommend we agendize this for discussion at an upcoming council meeting in August.