A copy-and-paste error cost Imperial Beach residents the chance to vote on a ballot initiative that would have allowed recreational marijuana dispensaries, cannabis consumption lounges, and manufacturing facilities in the coastal city.
Now, Imperial Beach is moving ahead with its own recreational marijuana ordinance that allows one dispensary, with an option for a second a year later. The City Council scheduled two hearings in June to approve the regulations.
The first meeting, scheduled for June 6, will be a first reading on the proposed regulations. The second meeting, scheduled for June 20, will be a second reading and a vote on the regulations.
If Imperial Beach approves the ordinance, the regulations would still need to be green-lighted by the state Coastal Commission because the regulations would require amendments to the zoning ordinance.
Imperial Beach does not plan to levy a special tax on marijuana, therefore marijuana regulations can be implemented without a November vote.
Imperial Beach has been able to write its regulations without pressure from outside groups introducing ballot initiatives because the Association of Cannabis Professionals fumbled its attempt to introduce a ballot measure in February.
The association has filed initiatives in cities throughout San Diego County. Its Imperial Beach initiative called for fewer regulations than Imperial Beach’s ordinance in that it would have allowed marijuana consumption lounges and weed manufacturing.
City Clerk Jacqueline Kelly rejected the association’s petition in February because the language on its notice of intent did not match the language on its signature packets.
That difference was one word: “medical.”
The notice of intent said the initiative was “to clarify and refine marijuana regulations in the City of Imperial Beach,” while the signed petitions’ stated purpose was “to clarify and refine medical marijuana regulations in the City of Imperial Beach.”
Kelly said the change was a substantial one and would likely mislead or confuse the public about the true nature of the initiative.
A San Diego Superior Court judge agreed.
The Association of Cannabis Professionals asked the court to issue a writ of mandate so that Imperial Beach accepts the petitions. In its request, the association said the “minor error” was the result of a careless cut-and-paste job while formatting the signature packets.
Apparently, an association employee copied language from an earlier draft of the notice of intent that included the word “medical” and nobody caught the error.
The court denied the association’s petition in April, records show.