Pacific Grove elected officials to put the nail in the coffin of cannabis sales

Peninsula Premier Admin

PACIFIC GROVE — As quickly as the possibility of a cannabis shop opening in Pacific Grove rose, so has it quickly fallen from grace with the city. On Wednesday, elected officials will officially turn the beleaguered venture into ashes, at least until voters possibly have their say next year.

The prior City Council in September approved an ordinance allowing a single dispensary to operate in the city. But two significant things converged weeks later that set the ordinance on a downward spiral.

A petition was launched seeking a referendum to overturn the ordinance the City Council approved. The petition failed by three signatures, according to the Monterey County Elections Office. And then in November, a new slate of council members was elected that had a different view of marijuana sales in the city.

An emotionally charged two-hour debate was held in September that ended with elected officials narrowly approving a single cannabis store in Pacific Grove. A two-hour debate ended after 10 p.m. with a compromise that gave the green light to a single dispensary.

What started as a discussion on approval of a cannabis store quickly turned into a passionate debate about the substance itself, with some expressing outrage at somehow allowing children to more easily possess marijuana, despite little data to support how that would happen. The store, like legal liquor stores, would have only sold to adults 21 years old or older.

In 2016, nearly seven in 10 Pacific Grove residents voted in favor of Proposition 64 that legalized cannabis for recreational use. But during the September meeting callers voiced opposition to the ordinance by a 2-1 margin. The final vote came down to a close 4-3 approval of the ordinance while nearly 120 people listened in.

But within days of green-lighting the store, a notice of referendum was filed that would ask voters to decide the issue instead of the City Council. Debby Beck, a Pacific Grove real estate broker, went about gathering signatures for the referendum.

“It was clear to me and the general public that four out of seven council members were not listening to the people,” Beck said in a statement at that time.

The petition generated more than enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot, but after the elections office tossed out a number of signatures, the petition failed by just three signatures.

Meanwhile, in November voters elected two new council members who were enough to tip the scales against a cannabis store. On Wednesday the council will have a second reading of an ordinance to rescind the original one that allowed for a cannabis shop.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the council will discuss perhaps putting the issue in front of voters in November 2022.

Contributed by local news sources

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