CA: El Monte Taking Another Look At Pot


El Monte – Despite banning cannabis sales in 2014, the potential statewide legalization of recreational cannabis use by voters in November has the city looking to consider all options moving forward.

The City Council established a 45-day moratorium on all commercial cannabis activity – including sales, distribution, cultivation and research – in July, and it will decide Tuesday whether or not to extend the moratorium through July 2018.

On Nov. 8, California voters will decide on the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which if passed would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis and up to six plants.

What the moratorium allows the city to do, according to City Manager Jesus Gomez, is study all possibilities regardless of what happens in November, and present its findings to both the community and City Council.

Those possibilities include lifting the city’s 2014 ban on cannabis cultivation and medical marijuana dispensaries, collectives and cooperatives, said El Monte’s Economic Development Director Minh Thai.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana use. Thai said he and his staff intend to closely study cannabis-related activity in both states.

While the City Council supported the ban in July by voting unanimously to update its language in the municipal code, Mayor Pro Tem Victoria Martinez said the City Council needs to be able to see all sides of the discussion, including the possible economic benefits of lifting the ban.

“California is known for being progressive, so we can’t be like other cities and bury our heads in the sand by not considering the benefits or downfalls of this entire industry,” Martinez said at the July 19 City Council meeting.

Although he voted in favor of the moratorium, City Councilman Juventino Gomez said he did not believe further examination of cannabis activity was necessary because he is opposed to the drug in general. Several residents, including Edward Guerrero, agreed with Gomez.

“I don’t think we should (earn tax money) off the medical marijuana industry nor from recreational use, either,” Guerrero said. “I don’t think we should have marijuana or the problems it could bring in El Monte, period.”

El Monte isn’t the only city in Southern California taking another look at its cannabis ban. In May, Garden Grove held workshops to get public input on the idea of allowing medical pot dispensaries and other types of marijuana businesses.

Garden Grove has yet to take substantive action after the workshops.

Even though El Monte’s moratorium may last until July 2018, City Attorney Joaquin Vasquez said the city can end the ban by adopting permanent regulations. Until then, Thai said, he and his staff are set to collect as much information as possible.

“We don’t have a predetermined outcome or goal today,” Thai said. “Ultimately, our goal is to give the City Council and community the full spectrum of information they need to make decisions down the line.”

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: El Monte Taking Another Look At Pot
Author: Christopher Yee
Contact: (626) 962-8811
Photo Credit: John McCoy
Website: San Gabriel Valley Tribune