OPINION: Continuing the quest to keep cannabis away from children
They are at it again. The city continues its efforts to allow one specific industrial cannabis business, Jefferson Soul (JSCA, Inc), to move into a building on Ream Avenue inside a school buffer zone. One year ago, the City began efforts and eventually passed a municipal ordinance to reduce the 600-foot buffer zone between industrial cannabis businesses and sensitive areas where children and youth congregate: schools, youth centers and daycares. The purpose of this ordinance reducing the buffer zone was to allow this particular industrial cannabis business, JSCA, to occupy and operate from this particular building on Ream avenue. But by April large numbers of city voters pushed back and qualified a successful referendum forcing the Council to repeal the ordinance in June. The state 600-foot buffer law then took effect. This means that no cannabis may be lawfully operated in the Ream avenue building.
Now we find out the city’s measurement of the buffer zone illegally excludes large sections of school campuses at Sisson and the “I AM” School. Ignoring numerous constitutional and statutory uses of “school campus” and “school” interchangeably, the city attorney and city planner have offered no legal authority for measuring the buffer zone only from a property line with a school building on it. At a public Planning Commission hearing on Nov. 19, the city planner, with the city attorney at her side, said, in effect, the state can tell us if we measured wrong. And opponents can appeal to the council or take us to court. Both have occurred, a suit has been filed in court, and an appeal to the city council will be heard, Monday, Dec. 16, 5:30 p.m., at the City Park.
The purpose of the misapplication of the 600 foot buffer is the same purpose that underlined the original ordinance that was repealed by the referendum: to allow this particular cannabis business, JCSA, to operate from this particular location even though the law prohibits it due to its close proximity to the “I AM” School. It is an obvious attempt by the city to deny its voters the lawful effect of the referendum they mounted with overwhelming public response. They cannot be allowed to get away with this blatant evasion of the law and the people’s wishes.
The Keep Cannabis Away from Kids Coalition (KCAfK) will fight against the City’s violation of its own municipal codes and state law. We urge people to join us in demonstrating that opposition at the upcoming city council meeting on Dec. 16.
Not only would JSCA operating at the Ream Avenue building violate the buffer law, other municipal codes would be violated. Through a public records request KCAfK has obtained a copy of JSCA’s city industrial cannabis license application for the Ream Avenue building. JSCA explicitly describes a recreational retail cannabis business. This would violate three city municipal codes: 1) operation without a retail license, JSCA is not applying for a retail license, 2) operating as a fourth retailer, city code allows only three, and 3) operating a prohibited recreational marijuana delivery business.
On Dec. 16 the majority of the city council faces another test for voters to witness. Does the council respect the rights of voters who have already disallowed cannabis operations at this particular location by virtue of the successful referendum that was mounted? Does the council stand by its own municipal codes and state law and thus vote to disallow the lot split at the Ream Avenue building? Or, instead, does the council majority continue to make industrial cannabis king, heedless of its own laws, disrespecting the voices of the people who have already told them “no” and disregarding the safety of children and youth?