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Santa Maria Sun / Commentary

The following article was posted on February 7th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 49

Lompoc welcomes cannabis industry

By JOE A. GARCIA

Lompoc was founded as a temperance colony which completely prohibited alcohol. A group of ladies is famous for pulling a saloon right off its foundation and dragging it down the street in 1885. But Prohibition ended with progression in Lompoc, and the city now boasts itself as wine and beer crafting tourism destination.

In November 1996, a majority of Santa Barbara County voters passed Proposition 215 to legalize medicinal cannabis, and the leaders of Lompoc for more than 21 years had banned the people from that safe and legal access. Finally, in November 2016, the people of Lompoc voted with a 57 percent majority to pass Proposition 64, legalizing and regulating adult-use of cannabis and ending prohibition once and for all.

Then City Manager Patrick Wiemiller, who has since resigned, along with Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh, former Lompoc Fire Chief Kurt Latipow, and City Attorney Joe Pannone responded to the passage of Proposition 64 by introducing a shameful ordinance which would have banned every aspect of what the people voted to legalize, with the exception of state-mandated activities, which the city had no power to stop.

The Lompoc City Council viewed this proposed ordinance as overburdensome and out of touch with the spirit of Proposition 64 and voted unanimously to deny it and formed an ad-hoc committee to focus on an ordinance more in touch with the people’s desires. What followed was a six month process of meetings to discuss cannabis and how a new ordinance should be directed to honor the will of the citizens—a process in which those opposed to legalized cannabis chose not to participate.

What resulted was a recommendation from the  ad-hoc committee to fully legalize and regulate cannabis businesses, which on Oct. 17, 2017, Councilmembers Jim Mosby, Dirk Starbuck, Janelle Osborne, and Victor Vega voted to pass Ordinance No. 1640(17). The lone vote of dissent came from Mayor Bob Lingl, who admitted to being ignorant about Proposition 64 and cannabis.

However, like the building-pulling ladies of Lompoc’s history, a faction of citizens supported and enabled by Mayor Bob Lingl attempted one last time to block the progression of legalized and regulated cannabis with a sneaky voter signature initiative. Although they were successful at delaying the ordinance for a couple of months, ultimately they joined the conversation about cannabis about a year too late and 200 signatures short of figuratively repeating history.

The failure of the group behind the referendum to secure a mere 10 percent of voters to block Ordinance 1640(17) sent a clear message that the people support legalization and a free market.

On Jan. 16, with the announcement from the Lompoc city attorney that the referendum failed to gather enough valid signatures, legalized and regulated cannabis established its presence in Lompoc history.

Medicinal patients now have a path to safe and legal access for the first time in the city in more than 21 years, the 57 percent of Lompoc voters who passed Proposition 64 were honored, and the City Council majority was issued a seal of approval from the public regarding its passage of the ordinance.

Lompoc can now look forward to new industry jobs offering higher salaries, better benefits, and a boost to the local economy—positive changes for both the city and its citizens.

A culture that has remained underground for decades now has the opportunity to rise from the shadows of prohibition like a shoot budding in a new industry in the Valley of Flowers. 

Joe A. Garcia is the president and founder of the Lompoc Valley Cannabis Coalition for Safe Access. Send your thoughts to letters@santamariasun.com.




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