The Oxnard City Council said yes to marijuana dispensaries on Tuesday but no to flavored tobacco.
By a vote of 6-1, council approved a retail cannabis ordinance that would allow up to eight dispensaries in commercial areas across the city. They will not be allowed within 600 feet of schools, parks and day-care centers.
Councilman Bert Perello, who wanted a buffer of 1,000 feet, voted no.
The decision paves the way for prospective businesses to submit applications in the first week of February.
In a separate vote, council decided to ban the sales of flavored tobacco, a move aimed at the increasing number of young people who vape and the illnesses and deaths that have followed.
Council voted unanimously in support of the ban. It is not a ban of e-cigarette sales but rather the sale of tobacco and vaping products that are flavored with mint, candy, fruit or other tastes.
Councilman Bryan MacDonald said companies that market flavored tobacco to youth only care about profits and not the community.
“Marketing to our youth with absolutely no regard for their health, it’s a no-brainer for me. I support this,” MacDonald said.
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While council showed unwavering support of the flavored tobacco sales ban, it was less decisive in giving the final go-ahead for marijuana retail.
Councilwoman Carmen Ramirez was concerned about the cash-only nature of these retail shops and how safe it would be.
“Let’s go forward and see what happens,” Ramirez said.
Council decided on a 600-foot buffer zone, which would mean there will be 940 parcels available in the city to become cannabis retail.
Mayor Tim Flynn wanted a buffer zone for religious institutions and Perello wanted to increase the buffer distance to 1,000 feet. Both options would have decreased the number of available parcels.
“I’ve had members of the clergy express some concerns about the proximity of these places to religious institutions, no differently than if a liquor store were going to be close to a religious institution,” Flynn said.
Staff members said putting a buffer around religious institutions is problematic because the city is not always privy to a church forming or moving locations.
Even with 940 parcels, Councilman Oscar Madrigal said the demand will be high and property prices will skyrocket. He said it’ll likely be very difficult for a local business to open.
“We’re playing a huge game of monopoly,” he said.
The city will issue up to eight permits for marijuana retail for now with two of them set aside for local business owners. In the coming years, the city could issue up to 16 permits.
Under this ordinance, marijuana retailers will be required to have security personnel on site as well as cameras. The entryway will be always locked and customers must be buzzed in to enter.
Currently the city is reviewing applications for marijuana manufacturers and distributors; these are other aspects of the business earlier approved by the city. One cannabis testing lab is allowed in the city but there have been no applications.