Commissioners will deal with proposed ordinances on October 18

The Taft Planning Commission is going to wait until Oct. 18 before before it makes a recommendation to the Taft City Council on how strict cannabis regulations in the City will be.

The City is drafting and debating its ordinances at a time when new legislation is still being passed in the wake of Proposition 64, which will legalize recreational use, growing, processing and sales of cannabis products starting on Jan. 1.

State laws and regulations expected to continue changing, but the city has to have ordinances in place by Jan. 1 or growing and selling cannabis products will be legal with no regulations.
"I think we'll still be talking about this in five years, but we have to do something now," City Attorney Jason Epperson said at Wednesday's Planning Commission meeting.

Two draft ordinances have been presented to the Commission -- one that would ban all commercial cannabis operations, and one that would allow very limited cannabis retail in the city and cannabis production in certain zones, and another that would ban all commercial cannabis operations.

Under the first option, no cannabis sales would be allowed within 1,000 feet of any school, day care center, or youth center, strictly limiting where a store could be opened.

During a discussion, a consensus seemed to form at one point to recommend an outright ban on all commercial cannabis activity, with only one member, Bob Leikam, opposing it.

But the Commission decided to take another two weeks to look at the issue, which includes more than 100 pages of information in a staff report.

It's a lot of information to digest and makes ense of.

"This is the most confusing thing we've ever had," Chairman Ron Orrin said. "It comes with constant changes."

Whatever option, the Commission decides to approve, its decision is only a recommendation and the City Council is not bound by it.

Members of the Council have strongly opposed any retail cannabis sales in the City in public statements, but left the door open to considering cannabis growing production in industrial agricultural zones.

City Director of Planning and Community Development Mark Staples referred to this in a staff report.

"Most comments from councilmembers, commissioners, and attendees of the public meetings and

public presentations regarding an ordinance for Taft sided with banning all commercial activity within city limits," he wrote.

Mayor Dave Noerr has mentioned several times that voters in the city strongly opposed the passage of Proposition 64.
However, Staples said in the report, voters in the unincorporated areas surrounding the city voted differently.

"It should be noted that the registered voters residing within the City of Taft voted against Proposition

64 by a vote of 58% to 42% (1,231 no to 890 yes)," Staples wrote. "The combined South Taft and Taft Heights polling district voted for Prop 64 by a vote of 55% to 44% (417 yes to 339 no) with Ford City voting for Prop 64 by a vote of 50.25% to 49.75% (398 yes to 394 no).

Some people opposing an outright ban on commercial cannabis spoke at the Planning Commission meeting in contrast to other Council, Planning Commission and public meetings, where there was near unanimity against cannabis.

One person said there would be no city opposition if a beer bottling plant wanted to locate in Taft and that the city could use the taxes and fees generated by commercial cannabis.