Imperial Beach Initiative for Unlimited Dispensaries

Imperial Beach Initiative may Allow more dispensaries

Imperial Beach Initiative for Unlimited Dispensaries

Oct 22 2019, by Jessica McElfresh in Legal Blog, Marijuana Business, Recreational Marijuana

More dispensaries could be coming to Imperial Beach in 2021 if residents approve a new ballot measure in November 2020.

Currently, the residential beach community has no open dispensaries–although it is currently reviewing applications from prospective businesses. The proposed reform would allow for an unlimited number of cannabis dispensaries, lounges, and manufacturing businesses. But it is facing fierce opposition from the municipal government.

California’s new cannabis laws allow municipal and county governments to impose their own restrictions on cannabis businesses. This means that even if your city or county authorizes adult-use cannabis businesses, you still need to go through a local permitting process t separate from your state license application. The process can be confusing and costly, but an experienced cannabis business lawyer can successfully guide you through the process.

Call McElfresh Law today at (858) 756-7107 to schedule a consultation about opening your cannabis business.

Imperial Beach Fought to Kill the Dispensary Ballot Initiative

The opposition to the cannabis industry within the Imperial Beach municipal government is so strong that they fought a protracted legal battle to leave the new marijuana zoning regulations off the ballot. The Association of Cannabis Professionals put forth the ballot initiative in February 2018, but the city rejected its application, supposedly because of a formatting issue.

The Association sued the city to have their initiative on the ballot, but the San Diego Superior Court ruled for the city. The Association then appealed to the California Court of Appeals, which overturned the lower court’s decision and ordered the city to put the measure on the ballot. The Imperial Beach City Council now has no choice but to give their community’s residents a chance to decide the issue for themselves.

The city also rejected the Association’s offer to suspend the ballot initiative in exchange for amending existing regulations to allow for the opening of two dispensaries instead of one. The Imperial Beach government believes that it can convince voters to reject additional dispensaries on voting day, but that could be a tall order in a city where 62 percent of voters supported Proposition 64’s legalization of recreational cannabis.

Voters Will Decide November 2020

Under current regulations, Imperial Beach only allows one dispensary to be opened, with the potential for a second one opening a year after the first. The ballot initiative would remove the limits on the number of dispensaries, but constrain them to mixed-use zones. There are a limited number of mixed-use zones in the area, where commercial businesses and homes can exist side by side. Because of these limits, a maximum of nine dispensaries, nine manufacturing businesses, and 12 lounges might open, for a total of 30 businesses.

These numbers have city officials scared, with Mayor Serge Dedina protesting that an outside industry has come to “shove an initiative, a referendum down our throats to allow for manufacturing — industrial manufacturing — in a residential area.” But proponents of the ballot initiative predict that only eight businesses might open: two manufacturing companies, three loungers, and three dispensaries.

And at the end of the day, the city will still be able to use the permitting process to limit the number of cannabis businesses, so an invasion of pot dispensaries is a gross mischaracterization of the situation. Nonetheless, the city will continue to use scare tactics up until the November 2020 election, with the mayor telling his constituents to “wait ‘til the election because you haven’t seen anything yet. This city will go after the marijuana industry…”

Tackle Local Permitting With an Experienced Lawyer

At McElfresh Law, we are closely following developments in Imperial Beach and other San Diego area municipalities that could affect our clients’ businesses. If you want to open a cannabis dispensary, lounge, or manufacturing facility in Southern California, we can help you navigate the licensing and permitting process.

Call us today at (858) 756-7107 to schedule a consultation with a California cannabis business lawyer.