2017-03-09 / Editorials

Help council decide how to regulate marijuana

Acorn Editorial Board

“Reefer” jokes aside, how the City of Thousand Oaks decides to answer the marijuana question is an extremely serious policy discussion that requires every resident’s attention (see related story here).

Whether or not this city will allow “weed” to be sold commercially, as is permitted under Prop. 64, is no laughing matter to the patients who rely on medicinal cannabis to treat their life-threatening conditions and must drive to Los Angeles to get their prescriptions filled. Nor is it for the teachers, police officers and counselors who witness the ill effects of the drug on a daily basis and fear what its newfound acceptance will mean for our city’s young people.

The time has come to decide if we should continue the policy of the last 20 years and maintain an outright ban on all things pot related or adapt to the new social construct that views marijuana in the same light as alcohol: a vice that must be taxed and properly regulated to keep it out of the hands of children.

Credit the City Council not only for being cautious and establishing a new ban while additional information is gathered, but also for keeping an open mind about the potential benefits of a more progressive approach to the controversial plant. With a cop, a firefighter and a pastor on the dais, this was no foregone conclusion.

Weeks of discussions since the November passage of Prop. 64 have all been leading up to March 28—the date the council has set to hear from experts and residents on the topic of marijuana. This is truly democracy in action.

Almost as important as the turnout at the March 28 workshop are the results of the 2017 citizen attitude survey, which is currently underway and for the first time in its history includes questions on the topic of marijuana.

While we have not seen the exact wording of the questions being asked of a random sampling of residents, we hope they are specific enough to truly gauge where the public stands on this complex issue.

This we know: A majority of Thousand Oaks voters—54 percent, to be exact— supported Prop. 64, the law that legalized pot for recreational use. Does that mean they will support the drug’s being sold for that purpose within city limits? That’s what the council is trying to determine. Currently, not even medicinal cannabis may be sold.

Ultimately, this difficult decision rests with the council, but for now it should hear all the arguments, for and against.

Remember, the questions being asked don’t have simple “yes” and “no” answers. If the city does allow dispensaries to operate, where should they go? How many should be allowed? And just how much should they be taxed?

We believe council members when they say they haven’t made up their minds. Don’t miss a chance March 28 to help them make the decision.

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