Prop. 64 is "poorly written, half-baked law," Orrin says

The Taft Planning Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday afternoon to recommend the City not allow any commercial cannabis in the City.

The Taft City Council will now make the final decision on whether or not to ban retail sales or the rowing and manufacturing of marijuana and related products.

Planning Commission Chair Ron Orrin and commissioners Shannon Jones and Jerry Livingston voted in favor of the ban despite the potentially lucrative financial benefits to the City through increased sales taxes, licensing and excise fees.

Commissioners Bob Leikam and Susan Banner voted against it.

"This is a poorly written, half-baked law," Orrin said of Proposition 64, the initiative passed by California voters a year ago to legalize growing and private recreational use of marijuana and cannabis products. "The community we represent said no."

Both Jones and Livingston said they aren't comfortable with approving any commercial uses at least right now with changing laws coming out of the state capitol as lawmakers try to craft workable policy to regulate the cannabis business.

"In 10 years from now I think our conversation is going to be completely different," Jones said. "I believe our city would be best served to watch what people are doing and if it is going to be boom times. I don't think we are going to miss out on anything in the short term."

Livingston said he, too opposed allowing commercial use because of the uncertain future of state laws.

"It doesn't protect us against any state laws that may change over the next few months. Making a decision based on money is a bad idea."

Leikam said there are other, legal "evils" in Taft.

"Evil is an action. Evil is not a product. We have other evils in this town we can get rid of."

Banner said marijuana is not the problem drug in Taft.

"In Taft we have a drug problem. It isn't cannabis. It's heroin and meth.

She pointed to voting statistics included in the staff report that the unincorporated neighborhoods surrounding the city voted slightly in favor of Proposition 64 while city voters opposed it.

Jones countered that a few minutes later.

"We don't represent Ford City, South Taft and Taft Heights," she said.

The Council will make the final decision over its two meetings in November. There is unanimity rom the five council members that they strongly oppose retail sales of cannabis, but there are no indications on whether or not it may vote to allow commercial grow and manufacturing in industrial zones away from homes and businesses.