By Jamie Moddelmog,
On Wednesday, Feb. 1, the Davis City Manager’s Office held a forum on local issues relating to Proposition 64, which was passed last November and allows for adult recreational marijuana use.
Some of the meeting’s objectives were to “present general background information on provisions and municipal considerations for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Prop 64)” as well as to “provide a facilitated space for all meeting attendees to listen to one another share a diversity of perspectives on Davis and the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.”
Several dozens of residents, along with city officials, attended the meeting to share their opinions or hear from others.
The forum began with an introduction from Mayor Robb Davis. He assured the community members that city officials had a “fairly aggressive timeline” for the creation of regulations on cannabis. The city placed a moratorium on outdoor cultivation and dispensaries in order to understand what kind of regulations should be in place. Davis said that outdoor cultivation restrictions and the issue of dispensaries were the most relevant in the discussion.
Facilitator Mark Simon followed Davis, speaking to the importance of the forum for the future of Davis and the future of recreational marijuana. He talked about the stigma of marijuana in the 1980’s when he was growing up and said, “It’s time to bring the conversation out into the open.”
To provide a background on Proposition 64, Ashley Feeney of the Department of Community Development and sustainability spoke before the meeting commenced. Feeney explained that under Proposition 64, local jurisdiction had the right to “reasonably regulate” indoor cultivation, as well as flat-out prohibit outdoor cultivation.
“There’s a whole host of different license types out there,” Feeney said. “Distributors, tester, manufacturers, they all need different licenses.”
The city plans to begin issuing licenses in January of 2018. “We’ve been approached by lots of folks who want to start businesses and dispensaries,” Feeney said, expressing the importance that the city council placed on coming to decisions in a timely manner.
After the information about the topic was fully presented, the meeting was underway and held in a “world cafe” style, where participants in the discussion sat at separate tables of around five to seven people and discussed prompts given to them.
The issues of taxation, driving impairment, “public nuisance” and safety standards for recreational marijuana were raised as people from all different areas of the community discussed the impacts of the new law on Davis and how to best handle them. Mayor Davis and other city officials walked the room during the discussion to get a sense of the types of concerns and opinions the people had on the matter.
Although there was a multitude of viewpoints regarding the extent to which the drug should be regulated, the general consensus at the end of the forum was that citizens were not too concerned about the effect of recreational marijuana on the community and wanted to see marijuana dispensaries in Davis.
They showed this during a “barometer” exercise where they were asked to mark a barometer to show how concerned they were about health and safety issues relating to marijuana and a separate barometer showing how ready they were to see marijuana dispensaries in Davis. The results of the barometer showed that the citizens at the meeting were not very concerned about health and safety issues and were very ready to see marijuana dispensaries in Davis.
Mayor Davis announced that there would be a follow-up meeting sometime later to further discuss the issues.