The San Diego County Board of Supervisors declined to take action on a proposal that would end a ban on cannabis businesses in unincorporated areas of the county and establish the framework for a social equity program in regulated marijuana industry. The motion to approve the proposal from Supervisor Nathan Fletcher died a quick death at a meeting on Wednesday when it failed to receive a second from any of his colleagues on the board.
Fletcher’s proposal would have ended a ban on commercial cannabis activity enacted by the board in 2017. Under that ban, no recreational cannabis businesses are permitted to operate in the unincorporated areas of California’s southwestern-most county. Additionally, five medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating would be forced to close by 2022.
After the meeting, Fletcher issued a statement expressing his disappointment in his fellow board members, calling out one vocal cannabis opponent by name and noting that the proposal enjoyed support from many civic leaders in the county.
Our proposal would have allowed for the development of a cannabis industry that is safe, regulated, and legal. Instead, led by Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, the Board doubled down on an outdated and out-of-touch view of legal cannabis,” Fletcher said in an email. “By saying no to creating a regulated market, they have opened the floodgates for more illegal shops, more criminal activity, and substantial losses in tax revenue to our county.”
“They not only rejected a bi-partisan coalition of elected officials, vital agricultural leaders like the San Diego County Farm Bureau, but they also rejected our veterans and seniors who rely on cannabis for the medical treatment of chronic pain,” he continued. “I can only hope a future Board of Supervisors will allow us to advance common-sense cannabis policy that puts social justice squarely at the front.”
Activists Look To November
With the failure of Fletcher’s plan, San Diego County cannabis activists have set their sights on the upcoming election as their next chance to affect change. With two open seats due to term limits and Gaspar vying for reelection, the makeup of the board is sure to change after the election. Tara Lawson-Remer, a candidate running against Gaspar for her seat in November, said that she was disappointed by the board’s rejection of the proposal.
“We need a commonsense approach to cannabis policy,” she wrote in a statement to High Times. “The most effective way to eliminate illicit cannabis operations, expand the tax base, and support our regional economy is licensed and regulated operations to facilitate safe, regulated, and legal cannabis use.”