2017-05-18 / Front Page

Poll: T.O. majority supports access to medical pot

Council to vote soon on marijuana regs
By Kyle Jorrey

Fifty-six percent of residents responding to the city’s most recent community attitude survey said they would support a limited number of medical marijuana dispensaries opening in Thousand Oaks. Asked about allowing delivery of medical pot to local homes, 63 percent were in favor.

The numbers were not as kind to recreational pot, with only 39 percent saying they’d like to see dispensaries serving the 21-and-over population at-large and just 36 percent saying they’d support delivery of recreational weed to private residences.

The results of the first city-sponsored survey on marijuana were made public last week during the City Council’s annual goal-setting meeting.

They represent the opinions of a random sampling of 567 Thousand Oaks households surveyed in March and April by True North Research Inc., an Encinitas-based firm the city contracts with to do the biennial poll. The results do not include figures from the strictly online portion of the survey—open to all city residents 18 and over—that are still being processed.

“There’s a variety of opinions and perspectives as it relates to (marijuana), and I think (the survey) showed a very transparent, good-faith effort to get a sense and temperature of where the public was on a very difficult, and for some very controversial, issue,” Councilmember Andy Fox said at the May 9 meeting.

Thousand Oaks has conducted a scientifically significant survey of resident attitudes four times since 2009, but this was the first time the poll included questions about marijuana, which is now legal to be consumed recreationally in the state of California but still illegal in all commercial forms in T.O.

Adults will be able to walk into a dispensary and buy marijuana without a prescription beginning Jan. 1, 2018, but where those storefronts are allowed and what they’re charged to operate remains up to the individual cities and counties.

Thus far, only one of Ventura County’s 10 cities, Port Hueneme, has said it intends to allow medical marijuana storefronts. Ojai has voted to allow delivery or pickup—by appointment only—of medical marijuana from a nonretail location.

Although pot was just a small part of a much larger survey, it was on the top of the minds of city leaders, who said during the goal meeting that the results will help guide them as they move forward in crafting a marijuana policy next month.

One major takeaway from the survey, City Manager Andrew Powers said, was that although the majority of T.O. residents supported legalizing recreational pot last November, most in the survey said they didn’t want it sold in town.

“Prop. 64, while it passed locally by 54 percent . . . when you look at the notes (from the attitude survey), it was about 54 to 57 percent who said no, they do not want recreational access to dispensaries or deliveries,” Powers said.

The results of the survey were well-received by T.O.’s pro-cannabis contingency, who’ve been pleading with the council since the passage of Prop. 64 to end its long-standing ban on all things marijuana.

Joe Kyle, a local cannabis grower and advocate of medical marijuana access, attended last week’s meeting. He said the survey data mirrored the opinions he’s been hearing while speaking with local residents.

“People are receptive of what Prop. 64 allows, that you can consume recreational marijuana and have it, but they don’t want recreational shops here,” Kyle said. “When we’re talking medical (pot), people are accepting of it across the board.”

Kyle said he was disappointed that the survey did not break into two parts (medical and recreational) a question dealing with commercial cultivation of marijuana on private property. According to the survey, just 34 percent of residents would support allowing commercial-scale grows in Thousand Oaks.

“It says ‘on private property.’ It needed to say commercial cultivation on private property in commercial or industrial zoning,” Kyle said.

To date, only Port Hueneme has said it will allow marijuana to be grown commercially with a special permit. If that doesn’t change, Kyle said, it will drive the price of medical marijuana up and the quality down for Ventura County patients.

“The problem is the amount of medicine that we need; Port Hueneme itself is not going to be able to cultivate enough for all of Ventura County,” he said.

Policy meeting set

The council is scheduled to meet Tues., June 27 to discuss crafting a new marijuana policy. The city has paid consultant HdL Companies $30,000 to aid local officials in writing the new law.

While it’s uncertain if council members will support the opening of a brick-and-mortar dispensary in the city, Fox did say he and his colleagues take the results of the attitude survey seriously.

“(The surveys) should be, at least in part, a guiding document for council policies and our priorities,” Fox said. “If they’re not, then they’re a waste of time for the citizens who participate, and it doesn’t make us very responsive. . . . It’s actual feedback from the folks we work for.”

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