Colton continues to weigh cannabis regulation options

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Photo/Associated Press: Canna Care employee John Hough waters young marijuana plants at the medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento.
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Colton leaders are still evaluating the potential “pros” and “cons” marijuana dispensaries, businesses, and cultivation areas could have on residents and business owners.

“It’s important for us to educate ourselves,” said Mayor Richard De La Rosa. “We need to see what, if any, benefit or impact cannabis establishments will have on Colton.”

Last November–after voters passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Prop.64)–the City Council approved an ‘urgency notice’ to temporarily ban cultivation, delivery, sale, and transportation of cannabis. The ban will stand until officials establish a permanent plan.

Despite not having a thorough understanding of cannabis regulation, Councilman Dr. Luis Gonzalez said city officials are taking steps to prepare for any potential change.

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Last week, Gonzalez and council member Frank Navarro attended a presentation hosted by the California League of Cities on the impacts of marijuana on municipalities.

Both De La Rosa and Gonzalez have made it clear that they will favor a cannabis ordinance that prohibits dispensary and grow operations in commercial and residential areas.

“We don’t have the enforcement teams needed to ensure safety and regulation, De La Rosa said. “The number one priority is to keep our neighborhoods and businesses safe from cannabis activity.”

Joshua Naggar, an attorney who represents several marijuana dispensaries and grow operations in the Inland area, claims that a landowner and cannabis operator approached him about the possibility of bringing establishments to Colton.

Naggar was recently responsible for helping the City of Perris introduce cannabis regulatory and sales tax measures in last year’s election. Both measures were heavily favored by voters.

“I’m happy to take things slow to educate the city about the issue and help them make the right decision,” he said.

Naggar believes a municipality like Colton can accrue approximately $2 to $3 million in property and sales tax. Believing that cannabis could be eradicated could be a crucial mistake, he argues.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of it being good or bad,” said Naggar. “It’s here already. Period. By looking around, it looks like the city could benefit from the revenue. What they could do is regulate and tax it.”

The interested cannabis operator, Irak Corona, helps run the nonprofit Royal Grass Farms. Corona claims to be following state guidelines and is a loyal taxpayer.

“I’d like to secure a city permit and state license to grow marijuana in order to sustain myself and my family,” he said. “I’m not looking to cause trouble.”

Corona said he also attended the League of California Cities presentation. He argued that the presentation was very negative and did not provide alternatives from the pro-cannabis side.

“This could provide jobs for residents and heavy tax revenue for the city,” he said. “I think we could help each other.”

Meanwhile, Mental Health Systems Coordinator Mirza Andrade explained she is working with the Colton Community Coalition for Change to inform parents and children about any possible changes.

“For us it’s a drug no matter what,” Andrade said. “And it’s a real problem in Colton. We need to figure out what other cities have done and speak to the community about their main concerns. We want to do as much as we can.”

The city is scheduled to hold a workshop on the issue on January 31 at City Hall at 5 p.m.

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